Someone holds the elevator for you. No “thank you”? You end up waiting in the lobby next time. You spend all weekend helping a friend move and at the end of it, all they say is, “Well, I’ll see you around.” Looks like someone just made your Nixon-esque enemy list.
Those two simple words could be the difference between a functioning society and an admittedly exaggerated chaos, but even if that chaos is exaggerated, there are plenty of reasons to remember to say “thank you.” Here are just a few.
It’s true. There are economic benefits to be gained by merely expressing gratitude. Don’t buy it? Check out this study about how waiters who write “thank you” and personalized messages on receipts get larger tips than their less grateful counterparts.
Retail stores also benefit from the power of a “thank you”: one jewelry store enjoyed a 70% increase in purchased goods from customers after calling past customers for a simple and sincere “thank you.” That study also found that if the “thank you” call was accompanied by some kind of promotion, the customer’s increase in purchased goods only rose 30% because the call seemed less sincere. Sincerity makes all of the difference.
For organizations that depend on fundraising efforts, like non-profits and charities, thanking volunteers can improve the work they do. This study found that fundraising callers made more calls when their managers sincerely thanked them for their help.
These effects are greater now more than ever before since the advent of social media. According to Gary Vaynerchuk in his book, The Thank You Economy, this intensifies the customer’s relationship with a brand. This makes it more important than ever to thank your customers and to ensure that your customers walk away saying “thank you” in return (hence the book’s title, no doubt).
And not because you’re making more money: thanking others has been shown to help prevent psychological disorders. There are plenty of reasons as to why this is: people who express gratitude often feel less stress than others and they tend to cope better too. Along with preventing psychological disorders, just saying “thanks” can also improve your overall psychological well-being.
Not only that, but being thankful can help you sleep better and otherwise improve your overall health because you’re more focused on the positive things in your life. Oh, also, being grateful improves the health of our entire society.
You see, expressing gratitude “motivates pro-social behavior,” which is just science talk for “it makes everyone a whole lot nicer.” It does this by making others feel socially valued and competent, and it encourages future helpful behavior.
By saying “thank you” more often you’ll be richer, happier, healthier and nicer. Plus, it’s contagious. Parents would have a much easier time getting their kids to be polite if they explained it that way.
Well, you can’t just say “thank you” and expect everything in your life to improve overnight. The importance of sincerity cannot be overstated. Remember the example with the jewelry store that offered the “thank you” with the promotion compared to the one that didn’t? Exactly.
Of course, there are dangers in your personal life if you start handing out insincere “thank yous.” People might spit in your food or do something even worse if you accidentally sound sarcastic!
And if you are being sarcastic when you thank people, you won’t receive any of the positive benefits mentioned above. If feeling appreciated makes people work harder or act more generously, feeling unappreciated or even insulted can have just as powerful of an effect (except negatively).
So, assuming you don’t have a voice that always sounds sarcastic, get out there and start thanking folks. You have everything to gain!
Dan Martell is the Founder and former CEO Clarity, Angel Investor, and Speaker. Dan Martell is an award-winning Canadian entrepreneur who previously co-founded Flowtown, which was eventually acquired by Demandforce in 2011. In 2012 he was named Canada's top angel investor having completed over 33 investments with companies like Udemy, Intercom and Unbounce. He believes "you can only keep what you give away" and is heavily involved in many charitable organizations & community events.