Note: This post is a summary of the, "Mind Over Stress" Podcast, "Can a "Thank You" Note Enhance Emotional Wellbeing.
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|Photo of handwritten "Thank You" with pen|
What Research Tells Us About the Power of "Thank You" Notes:
So what does the science tell us about writing “Thank You” notes? Is it worth doing? Is it difficult? Who benefits?
What stops you from writing notes of appreciation? Does it feel awkward? Are you afraid you won’t know what to write? Are you concerned the recipient won’t really appreciate receiving that kind of message?
Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Chicago published the results of their research into "Thank You" note writing in the journal, “Psychological Science”. They asked participants to write a letter of gratitude to someone who had done something special or nice for them. After writing the message, participants were asked to anticipate how recipients would react.
What were the results? Letter writers overestimated how awkward recipients would feel. They underestimated how surprised and pleased recipients would feel.
Dr. Amit Kumar of the University of Texas Comments:
Lead author, Dr. Amit Kumar, assistant professor in the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, said,
“We looked at what’s correlating with people’s likelihood of expressing gratitude - what drives those choices - and what we found is that predictions or expectations of that awkwardness, that anticipation of how a recipient would feel - those are the things that matter when people are deciding whether to express gratitude.”
He added anxiety about what to say and fear that recipients would misinterpret the intent, stopped many people from expressing gratitude to others.
“What we saw is that it only takes a couple of minutes to compose letters like these, thoughtful ones and sincere. It comes at little cost but the benefits are larger than people expect.”
Your Personal Experience of Receiving a "Thank You" Note:
Think back to a time you received a note from someone expressing appreciation for a gift or something you did. How did you feel? What did you think about the person who wrote the note?
A Simple "Thank You" Note Template:
Here’s a template you can use to craft a short “Thank You” note:
First, think about the act of kindness. Allow yourself to really feel gratitude.
Use a simple, straightforward opening such as,
“Thank you for…”
“It was wonderful of you to…”
“I really appreciate you taking time and effort to…”
Add one to three sentences briefly describing the action, gift, or kindness.
Close the body of your message with one or two sentences describing how the action, gift, or kindness affected you, such as,
“The flowers are beautiful! I feel so warm and loved every time I look at them!”
“I feel blessed to have you as a friend!”
“You really are a Knight in Shinning Armor! Your kindness is very much appreciated.”
End with an appropriate close such as,
“With heart-felt appreciation,”
“Blessings in abundance,”
Or other close appropriate to the person and your relationship with that person.
I encourage you to take a few minutes and write a "Thank You" note to someone who showed you kindness. You’ll boost their self-esteem and you will feel really, really good about acknowledging that kindness.
To paraphrase the old joke about voting in Chicago, “Write early, and write often”. Your short notes of appreciation will go a long way to helping create a kinder, happier world one person at a time.
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Stephen Carter | Stress Solutions, LLC | https://www.EFT-MD.com | "Mind Over Stress" Podcast: http://www.MindOverStress.us
Sources and Resources:
“Writing a “Thank You” Note is More Powerful Than We Realize, Study Shows”
More information: Amit Kumar et al, Undervaluing Gratitude: Expressers Misunderstand the Consequences of Showing Appreciation, Psychological Science (2018). DOI: 10.1177/0956797618772506
Journal information: Psychological Science