The phrase to show courtesy. The words to convey gratitude. The lyrics of appreciation.
Two little words that when spoken can do much to uplift someone’s spirits, to boost morale, and to perpetuate goodness. Two little words with such enormous power, yet often taken for granted and not spoken nearly as often as one might think.
Call me a softy, and I am, but I just love it when people throw up their hands or nod their heads to say “thank you” after I have let them cut in a lane, or let them out when they would otherwise be blocked in by a line of traffic. For me, it is only courteous driving, but when someone shows gratitude for my showing courtesy, it makes me want to show that type of courtesy even more. That’s how gratitude works. It is the catalyst to perpetual goodness.
The opposite is also true, right? My mother used to say “I can’t stand an ungrateful child.” Hey ... not to me. Well, yeah, sometimes to me. But, what that sentiment speaks to is how ingratitude disheartens others and stifles goodness.
When you let someone through on the road, or when you are working hard to give your children a lot of what they want and everything they need, or when you are putting in the hours and going well beyond the call of duty on the job and it goes unappreciated, you are less eager to continue.
Some might argue that people should be courteous drivers and parents should take care of their children, and employees should do their jobs whether they receive a “thank you” or not.
Well, we all have obligations to our families, jobs, or organizations and we have to do what is required of us. However, I believe that when we fail to let others in our lives, professionally or personally, know that they are appreciated for what they do, we discourage hearts, stifle efforts, and drain motivation.
We are not perpetuating the goodness of others. When this happens consistently, especially in the workplace, the result is substandard or “just enough to get by” kind of efforts that do little to achieve organizational or departmental goals. These same underappreciated workers hit the roads and highways and refuse to show courtesy to a fellow driver as they make their way home to their unappreciative families. The cycle of ingratitude perpetuated.
For the rest of the week, look for opportunities to ignite a cycle of gratitude. Say “thank you” to the store clerk who checks you out, to the parent or caregiver who cooked dinner or helped with a project, to the husband who worked extra hours, to the wife who did the laundry-after work, to the teacher who answered your questions after class, to the employee who covered an extra shift, to the kid who did their homework, or cleaned their room, and yes, to the driver who lets you cut in on the road.
It may be their jobs, their responsibilities, but remember the power that just two little words can have to cause people want to do more, give more, and to be more courteous.
Thank you, and be encouraged.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.