What does “thank you” mean to you? Are you used to saying and hearing it every day? Is it just a polite phrase or an ultimate expression of gratitude? Most people would not remember, how many times they said “thanks” to someone automatically, without paying any extra attention to the meaning of this word. So let`s try to understand why do we say it so often. Do we appreciate people around so much? Or “Thank you” has been devalued by a routine communication protocol and the more we say it, the less meaning it has for us?
Do Thanks always mean appreciation?
Let`s try to understand, why do we thank people so much. There are numerous cases when we want to express our appreciation and gratitude towards someone. But generally “Thanks” itself may have lost it`s sacral meaning long ago. From routine politeness to passive-aggressive behavior, unfortunately, we have invited “Thank you” to a rhetorical expression.
It is not a feeling. It is actual action. When we appreciate it, we recognize that someone has spent his time and energy to offer us a solution or make our lives much easier. That is why it is important to understand that appreciation itself does not need a verbal expression. It is more about actions and attitudes. So, when you want to demonstrate your appreciation, “thank you” is not that necessary. A returned favor or significant attitude change express appreciation much better than any verbal expression.
Unlike appreciation, gratitude is not a one-time action. It is more like a state of mind, practice, and personal philosophy. Being grateful does not have to be associated with someone`s particular actions or words. You may be grateful to people, your ethnic and religious affiliations, and even given circumstances in general. Children may be grateful to their parents for bringing them up and naturally support the elderly. A cancer survivor is grateful for every day he gets to live. Gratitude has its circumstances but is generally a natural state of mind. Therefore it also does not require verbal expression.
So, do we need to say “Thank You” at all?
Yes, we do! We have to say thank you as much as possible as it might have a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of people around us. The therapeutic effect of certain words and sounds have been proven many years ago. Starting from plants exposed to classical music and ending with mothers supporting their children in sickness. Our brain responds to certain things in many different ways. Most of the time we don`t even notice those reactions and cannot link cause and effect. This is called psychosomatic. Yes, “Thank you” became an unrecognizable part of speech. Just like the buzz of the motor of a fridge in your kitchen. Our brain can filter certain sounds and even events, skip analyzing it to be more efficient. So just like you will notice when the power will go off and your fridge stops buzzing, you will always notice when someone does not thank you for your acts of kindness or something even more basic like holding the door open for them to pass through. The ordinary “Thank you” becomes much more significant than you might have thought before.
The meaning and significance of “Thank you” may become an object for long discussions. Some cultures aim to minimize ceremonial interaction and therefore thanks and even hello`s and goodbyes are considered to be excessive and even unnecessary. In other cases, not thanking someone may be considered to be a serious violation of communication code and cause serious consequences. It is only up to you, what you mean when you say “Thank You” and whether you mean anything at all. But when we talk about appreciation and gratitude and their expression, this is exactly the case when actions speak louder than words and might have a much more significant impact.
“There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.”
– Helen Keller