Does Thanks-Getting Bring Out Your Inner Turkey or Peacock?

I love Thanksgiving because gratitude is such good medicine. We just need more than one day a year to get in the zone! 

My dad always told me, “When I give, I expect nothing in return, not even a ‘thank you.’ I give because I want to, for my reasons, because it feels good.” 

I have tried to follow my dad’s credo, but sometimes giving thanks is easier than getting it. 

The “thank you” as gift 

A “thank you” is recognition.  It comes in many forms, especially at work, and sometimes we fumble with what to say in response. 

Consider these “thanks-getting” scenarios. Which phrase sounds like something you would say?   

1. Your boss singles you out at a staff meeting and praises your cost analysis. 

  • It really wasn’t that hard. Anyone here could have worked up those numbers.
  • I really enjoyed the assignment and am happy my analysis is useful. 

2. A coworker compliments your “look” for a presentation you’re about to give. 

  • I hate being the center of attention for these talks, so I just grabbed something I wore at my job interview.
  • Your compliment really makes me feel better. I was unsure about how to dress for this occasion.  

3. A peer in another department recognizes your consistent willingness to find middle ground to get things done. 

  • It’s no big deal. I just can’t stand to see projects stall.
  • It’s very nice of you to notice my efforts. I like to help things move forward. 

4. Your team gets together to salute you for organizing the MS charity walk and the amount you personally contributed. 

  • It was really all of you that made the event successful. Everyone contributed as much as they could, so this salute shouldn’t be about me.
  • You’ve really touched me today. I never expected this from you. I will never forget this moment. Thank you. 

5. A coworker new to your department picks up the check at lunch to show his/her appreciation for the support you gave during his/her transition. 

  • I can’t let you do this. There was nothing special about the help I gave you. Please let’s just split the check.
  • This is such a surprise. I was happy to help you get acclimated to our department and appreciate having you as a colleague. Thanks. 

I know I was a “turkey” when my responses to  “thank yous” sounded like those italicized lines. We often say them because we feel awkward or undeserving of the thanks we’re being given.  

We need to get over that. Why? Because it’s right to experience a moment of “peacock” pride when someone acknowledges something good about us. 

Thanks-getting circles back! 

To deflect, side-step, or discount someone’s words of gratitude is the same as rejecting them. 

It’s time to stop fighting it. You do nice things just as others do. For every “thank you” you give, there is someone who’s got one ready for you. When we deflect the thanks-giving gestures of others, we discourage the culture of gratitude that we so desperately need, especially at work. 

Every time we accept a “thank you,” we turn it into a gift back to the giver. 

It’s not for us to decide whether or not we’re worthy of someone’s gratitude. It’s their gift to us. Our obligation is to accept their “thanks” graciously. 

So now it’s my turn:  

I am so grateful for the heartfelt support you’ve given me. You’ve touched me by reading my posts and thinking about the ideas I share. I’m heartened when you talk to me through your comments here, on Facebook and Twitter, and in person. I’m so fortunate to be able to give and get so much through this blog. You have enriched me in so many ways. Thank you. 

What have been your experiences with “thanks-getting?” How can we all get better at it? I love hearing from you!


7 thoughts on “Does Thanks-Getting Bring Out Your Inner Turkey or Peacock?

  1. Your dad was a wise man, Dawn. The wisdom and memories of those we love are among our greatest gifts. You are so right about the turkey moments. Personally, I have had more than my share of “wild turkeys”. Now that you ask, probably a good way to get better at thanks-getting, would be to really listen to the giver and then take a moment to absorb and enjoy the gift of their kind words. I think a pause will stop the knee-jerk reaction to deflect the gift. I love your suggestions for ways to accept a compliment and/or thanks with respect and grace, and what a treat to get some medicine on Thanksgiving Day that was not for indigestion! I am definitely with you , let’s embrace everyday with Thanksgiving and Thanks-getting too. May the Peacocks prevail!

    • Pam, you’re comment is fabulous…your wit and insights always result in something special. You’ve really hit on something when you say “really listen to the giver and then take a moment to absorb and enjoy the gift of their kind words.” Instead of savoring the moment, we often just leap out of our skin and babble! (At least, that was true for me!) Thanks for adding this great advice and for suggesting that this blog replaced at least one swig of Pepto Bismol! It was great fun for me to hear from you today! ~Dawn

  2. Thank you for this post. This is something we all need to remember. I am guilty of being overly self-deprecating in my replies to thank-you’s too. I think we all like to be thought modest and we have been trained since childhood not to get “too big for our britches.” We forget that accepting a sincere compliment graciously encourages others to be grateful too. You are right: When we protest, we are really rejecting the “thank-you” and devaluing the gift.
    Thank you for a great reminder! :)

    • You make a wonderful point, Ann, about those lessons on being “too big for our britches.” Believe me, I spent a lot of years being self-deprecating just as you described. Most of the time I really believed I wasn’t entitled to those “thank yous.” It wasn’t until I faced up to how deflated I felt when others declined my gestures that I saw things differently. I’m very grateful for the time you’ve taken to offer this helpful comment, and I hope I’ll hear from you again! All the best, ~Dawn

  3. Thank you for bringing to light something that, for me, was so obscure! I found your site because I searched the Internet to see if anyone else had used a word I had just coined today – thanks getting! – boy was I behind the times on that one. But I am so grateful for the search as i am so impressed with your illustrating how to take a compliment by giving back! Thank you again.

    • D Thomson, Thanks for your terrific comment. To be truthful, I just coined the term for the purposes of this blog message, not checking to see if it had a prior life. It sounds like we were both actually ahead of the curve. You know what they say about great minds traveling in concentric circles! I apologize for my slow response to you. I have clearly not been feeling very thankful for my internet carrier who couldn’t repair an outage that kept me and others out of service for 6 1/2 days. I appreciate your patience and am immensely grateful for your kind words about the post. All the best, Dawn

  4. Pingback: Respect, Recognition, and Appreciation Matter. | Assessing Your Give and Take | Business Fitness

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