thank you by milly

The Power of Please and Thank You

<tl;dr> Saying please and thank you really works. Actual real-life professors say so. Not only do you get a better response, but it’s good for you, too.

I am definitely a novice at this whole parenting thing.

One thing that I have noticed, is the difference in reaction from the staff at the nursery when the kids say “please” and “thank you”. In fact, the older ones deliberately lay it on thick to get away with mischief. Devious little so-and-so’s.

The science of saying thanks

A sample size of a bunch of nursery kids isn’t particularly scientific, so do good manners get results? Or is it just a nod to a more genteel age?

Nope, it turns out asking for things politely and showing gratitude pays off gangbusters. Just writing thank you on the back of a restaurant bill increased tips by nearly 20% in one study.

Francesca Gino and Adam Grant, of Harvard Business School and Wharton conducted a study on gratitude study on gratitude and generosity.

They explored the ‘gratitude gap’, when we forget to say thanks, not realising the power of this simple action.

“Thank you” works double

In one experiment Gino and Grant asked people to help students with a cover letter and send the feedback direct to the students.

One group were sent a note simply acknowledging the feedback, the other group wee sent a note that included, “Thank you so much. I’m really grateful.”

The following day the students contacted the people again asking for further help. The response rate of those receiving the “thank you” note was over 50% higher.

In another test, a manager of a telesales fundraising centre spent time talking to the operators thanking them for their work and expressing appreciation for the work. The effect was dramatic,

“there was more than 50% increase in the number of calls that the average fundraiser actually made over the course of a week”

Don’t think that it’s just a technique for self-serving managers either, research from the University of Georgia shows it can be good for your marriage, too.

Mental note: say thanks to the good lady wife

The benefits of thank you

Why show gratitude? Well, it gets results. Not just from the people being thanked but for the thanker, too.

Robert Emmons, Professor of Psychology at UC Davis a world expert on gratitude – yes, for real – lists a whole bunch of benefits, his top four:

  1. Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present, magnifying positive emotions and discourages taking things for granted
  2. Gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret
  3. Grateful people are more stress resistant and generally healthier – lower blood pressure, better sleep
  4. Grateful people have a higher sense of self-worth

The three-part thank you

You know how to say “thank you”, right? Yes? No. Take this with a pinch, possibly a bag of salt as we veer into the self-help, life coach, motivational speaker, but for the sake of completeness, here’s the full-on MacDaddy method, the three-part thank you from Kevin Kruse,

…thank-you’s are only powerful if we feel they are sincere, thoughtful and specific. I like to give three-part thank-you’s. It’s a simple formula to make the most of them:

  • Actually say “thanks” or “thank you”— don’t assume someone will “get it” or “know” you are grateful.
  • Mention the behavior or achievement you are grateful for. This is the thing you want more of. This is the thing you want others to know gets rewarded.
  • Link it to a value or to a strategic initiative.

For example, “Hey everybody, before we begin our status meeting I just want to say…Vanessa, thank you for coming in last weekend to debug the reports module. It was a real sign of your dedication to teamwork and to hitting our original ship date. We really appreciate it.”

Yeah, bit much, isn’t it?

The post is part of my 2016 New Year’s resolution, day #4, to try writing a post every day for 30 working days. Here’s the post that kicked things off and here’s the full list. It gets easier, right? You’ll also find more of this and other stuff @toodlepip and on Facebook.

Photo (cc) milly on Flickr.


Inquisitive. Hopeful. Jovial. Cantankerous. Digital marketer. Event organiser. Long-time fan of tech, collaboration and innovation. Exploring digital, social, business, technology, society, psychology & startups. Founder Chinwag, Digital Mission, Pitch NYC, ChinwagPsych. Former Exec Dir, Social Media Week London. More short stuff @toodlepip on Twitter.

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