Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. It’s a day for reflecting in gratitude and expressing gratitude to others
I’m sure today there will be many blog posts and articles on the power of gratitude.
Our Culture of Gratitude
When I was growing up, I learned the importance of giving thanks. Writing thank-you notes was something my parents required me to do from the time I was old enough to write.
The values of of being grateful and expressing our gratitude to others are woven into our culture.
Gratitude is also big business. We have thank you notes, thank you gifts, gratitude journals, books on gratitude, client or fan appreciation events, and all the days on the calendar dedicated to celebrating and acknowledging different types of professions and people: Veterans Day, Teacher Appreciation Day, Secretary’s Day, and so on.
What is less woven into our cultural fabric is how to receive gratitude. This is not something I learned growing up. It’s not taught in schools. There are no books or journals on receiving gratitude.
That’s a problem because you cannot give what you cannot receive.
On this day of giving thanks, it’s important to look at the other side: how to receive thanks.
First let’s look at what not to do. Next we will look at how to receive with grace. Finally, we will look at the consequences of not receiving gratitude with grace.
The Wrong Way to Receive Gratitude
The Two Words That Weaken Your Contribution
In business and in every day situations, the most common responses to “thank you” weaken the bonds of a relationship, cause people to question your actions, and leave people feeling unseen, unheard, and unimportant.
Not exactly the sentiments you want to generate in people for whom you just did something meaningful, right?
If you’re in business, it’s an imperative to wipe these words from your vocabulary. And it would serve all of your relationships well to do so.
Those words are
I don’t remember when I first became aware of this, but it changed my life forever. Since then I’ve noticed how often people say “no problem” or similar responses:
- No problem.
- Don’t mention it.
- It’s no big deal.
- It was nothing.
- You’d do the same.
The Problem with “No Problem”
No problem immediately raises questions for the person expressing gratitude.
Oh, was it a problem? Why would it be a problem? Was it a problem?
Beyond that, these responses are dismissive of the gratitude being offered.
I want to mention it.
It’s a big deal to me.
I think it is something.
Whether I’d do the same is irrelevant.
The Proper Response to “Thank You”
The proper verbal response to “thank you” is “you’re welcome” or “it’s my pleasure.”
Beyond that, the first response to gratitude is to receive the gratitude. Give yourself permission to feel the appreciation directed toward you. Literally feel it in your body.
Own your role in making someone’s life better, even if in only the smallest of ways.
Accept the appreciation with grace.
The Consequences of Dismissing and Deflecting Gratitude
Okay. I know today is Thanksgiving, not Thanksreceiving. So why is this receiving piece so important?
The simple answer is this:
You cannot give what you are unable to receive.
You cannot give it to others, or to yourself.
This applies to everything: service, support, awareness, criticism, and definitely gratitude.
More specifically, here are three consequences of not receiving gratitude with grace.
(1) Weakened Relationships
When we are dismissive of gratitude directed toward us, we unconsciously dismiss the people expressing thanks. We deny them the opportunity to fully be heard in their gratitude.
This weakens the bonds in relationships in a moment designed to strengthen those bonds.
(2) Feeling Resentful
When we don’t allow ourselves to fully receive the appreciation directed toward us, we deny ourselves the opportunity to fill up with the knowledge that we’ve made an impact.
This is one of the reasons that many people — especially service-driven givers — often feel empty no matter how much they give. If you don’t allow yourself to receive the gratitude you won’t feel the impact of what you’ve given.
Your actions in service will begin to feel hollow, and you’ll begin to feel unappreciated. Eventually you’ll feel resentful.
(3) Missing Your Blessings
We cannot give what we don’t allow ourselves to receive. If you cannot receive gratitude, you will not be able to offer gratitude from a place of integrity.
People who feel unappreciated often have a hard time showing appreciation for the blessings in their lives. Their negativity bias is heightened.
The bottom line is that when you bask in the warmth of gratitude expressed towards you, you are more likely to express heartfelt gratitude towards others.
Today is a day for gratitude. As you gather to give thanks, remember that you cannot give what you are unwilling to receive.
Today and every day, may you give and receive gratitude with grace.
Are you guilty of saying “no problem” when someone offers you appreciation? Please share in the comments!