People really appreciate thank-you notes a lot more than you thought, research says.

How do you see The Factionary? Are you grateful that we help you learn every day?, or you don’t. That awesome moment when a friend lends you a helping hand, donates to your startup, or gave you a recommendation you needed so much. That’s so nice. So how do you say “thank you?” You want to write a thank-you note, or maybe saying thank you to ‘em in person seems more appropriate? However, research says recipients of “thank-you” notes turned out to be much more touched by those notes than their senders believed they would be.

Related media: How To Write A Thank You Note | The Art Of Manliness


Thank You So Much

In a 2018 study from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, researchers found that recipients of thank-you notes turned out to be much more touched by those notes than their senders believed they would be. In their two part experiment, first, they recruited hundreds of participants via the school’s lab and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk website. Each participant was asked to write a “thank-you” note via email to someone who once helped them. In their notes, they had to state exactly what the other person did for them that impacted their life. 

In the second part of the experiment, the participants had to guess how their note would make the recipients’ feel. Last but not least, the researchers had to get in touch with those recipients and find out how really the participants could have guess their feelings upon receiving their notes. The take? Not so much. The participants had in mind that the recipients would feel somewhat happy about their notes upon receiving them, less surprised by the content in them, and somewhat awkward about their relationship than they anticipated the recipients actually ended up feeling.


I’m Very Grateful

Moreover, in a follow-up experiment, the participants totally underestimated their own competence at actually expressing their gratitude; on average, they rated their competence at about 7 out of 10, whereas the recipients rated it at a 9.3. Does it make sense to think that a “thank-you” note would make a person feel self-conscious? Kinda! Take the time to acknowledge all the people who helped you when you needed it, this reflects the time in your life when you felt incapable of handling your responsibilities, and help came to you when you needed it.

Image: Shutterstock / iStock / Getty Images Plus

“These results suggest that the first thoughts that may come to mind for people when deciding to express gratitude — their ability to competently articulate their gratitude — may be an unwarranted barrier to expressing gratitude more often in everyday life,” the authors wrote.

If you find your feelings are being reluctant because of your own self-consciousness, rather than any feelings of awkwardness on the part of the recipient. Then you’re not alone. In short, everyone appreciates being appreciated — but when the one you’re showing gratitude plays an important role in your life (such as a parent, teacher or a mentor), then you might find their acceptance to be overwhelming if you thought you didn’t thank them well enough.


You’re Welcome

Another study carried out by one of the authors found that participants social behavior was quite awkward when talking to strangers. In that study, participants were divided up into two groups. The first group were given one of these sets of instructions: to start up a conversation with a stranger, to sit alone, or to behave normal. The second group was merely asked to imagine doing one of those things.

Later, participants who talked with strangers earned higher happiness scores than any group; however, the group that was asked to imagine talking with strangers confessed that it was a worst experience. In summary, people are just social creatures, and our social interactions is what keeps us going as a community. Reach out and show some gratitude.


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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sat, Aug 08, 2019.

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