Failing to express gratitude

Now and then, you bump into someone who sucks at expressing gratitude. That could be at the workplace or someone at your home. (Or perhaps, that’s you?) They have a hard time saying “thank you” or “please,” let alone apologize for their screw-ups.

This inability to express gratitude, in my opinion, is the most basic form of bad manners. That’s why we teach children to say “thank you” and “please.” Because using those words doesn’t cost anything and can be told repeatedly to as many people as possible.

Some of these very same children grow into adults who forget the basics, get caught up with life’s whirlwinds, and use that as an excuse to be a thankless asshole to everyone around them. A few of them wind up becoming our bosses and managers. And then some sign up to work with me as their coach.

I’ve got to be honest — just because I’m a leadership development coach doesn’t mean I have all the answers or magic pill to transform anyone from a thankless asshole to an overwhelmingly thankful saint. So, I often have to remind my clients that gratitude is in abundance. It doesn’t cost us a dime or a lot of time (see what I did there?). And it’s instant karma too!

And yet, I’ve had some clients who can’t say a proper “thank you” for the life of it! I have to point out that it’s bad manners! Plain and simple.

Of course, gratitude is an emotion. You either feel it, or you don’t. But that doesn’t mean you have the license to ignore the ones around you. To them, expressing gratitude may mean the world! The only way to find out is to thank them. And often.

The other way to thank them is to listen to them. Deeply and intently. And if you are engaged enough, you can’t help but feel gratitude.

That’s it! All it takes to express gratitude. As I said before, gratitude isn’t a limited resource or costly. Marshall Goldsmith says, “Gratitude is abundant as air. We breathe it in but forget to exhale.”

One can break the habit of failing to say thank you by simply saying it to as many people as they can, over and over again. If that’s too difficult, listen to what they’re saying with every fibre of your being.

Trust me; you won’t die. But the exercise may help you experience gratitude before you get comfortable saying it.

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