Saying “thank you” is something we say to people throughout our days. We thank loved ones, friends, colleagues, and strangers.
We think of thanking people as a simple concept. When someone does something for you, you thank that person.
After thinking deeply about the meaning of “thank you’s,” I’ve come to realize not all thank you’s are valued equally. Some thank you’s are more meaningful than others.
Thank you’s can be broken down into two types: expected thank you’s and unexpected thank you’s.
What you will find is one kind of thank you is more meaningful than the other.
Expected Thank You’s
Most thank you’s occur after somebody does something in which a thank you is expected. Expected thank you’s acknowledge somebody has performed an act of service or has completed a task.
See a few examples:
- Thank you for paying for lunch
- Thank you for picking up the dry cleaning
- Thank you for finishing the report
It’s obvious when an expected thank you needs to be said. But if somebody is expecting a thank you, is it truly meaningful?
This leads us to the better kind of thank you.
Unexpected Thank You’s
It’s totally acceptable to thank people for no specific reason. Tell somebody thank you just because you felt like doing so. Unexpected thank you’s let the other person know they are valued, recognized, and loved.
See specific examples below:
- Thank you for being such an incredible friend
- Thank you for all the work you do day in and day out
- Thank you for always having my back
Notice these “thank you’s” aren’t specific. They acknowledge the bigger picture.
Here’s the best part — you can say unexpected thank you’s anytime you want. You don’t have to wait for a good deed. The next time you see somebody you care about, tell that person you’re grateful for who they are and the work they do.
The best thank you’s are those when the person least expects it.
You may have had the experience of receiving recognition from a peer when it was least expected. Do you recall how that made you feel?
It’s elating and reaffirming to have somebody tell you how much they value you. Remember how that feels and share the good vibes with somebody that deserves to hear it.
Thank ’Em All
Thanking people comes in different forms. Continue thanking people for the things they’re expected to do. That’s a given.
But be certain to thank others, “just cause.” It’s the unexpected thank you’s that make all the difference.
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