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When Gratitude Appears Obsolete

3 annoying habits in people

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward 

I can’t remember the last time I received a thank you note. You will say that these days people write texts if they want to say thank you. Not that much! I wish I would receive more thank you messages.  

I often get distracted by people’s anti-social behaviors. I don’t understand why some people don’t return calls or don’t answer messages. What should I understand? Sometimes it feels like in a relationship when the other person wants you to “understand’ that it is over.  

Thanking you 

I have a great social life. I am often invited to weddings and birthday parties. All seems great except that too often people don’t thank me for their gifts. Is saying thank you not trendy? I’m not expecting thank you notes. I would be happy with a text or a call. What is the reason? Are they rude? Are they too proud? I want to believe that it’s because they don’t see the necessity. 

Everyone likes to feel appreciated. When you go to a party, you like it when the person opens the gift in front of you. It is a great feeling to see the person’s reaction.  

“Gratitude is the high-octane fuel without which we’d be in relational ruin . . . organizations, families, societies would crumble,” according to Robert Emmons, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. 

My parents taught me good manners. When someone would ask me how I was doing, I had to answer: “I am fine. Thank you.” My dad would point out if I had omitted the “thank you.” When I was a little girl, I didn’t understand the “thank you” at the end of the sentence. My dad explained that it was a way to express gratitude for asking how I was doing.  

Answering you 

Don’t you hate when you send messages to your friends and they remain unanswered? What’s the reason? People are too busy, or they are just ignoring you?  

I recently invited some of my friends to a Zoom session. It was a great way to connect during the current lockdown. Some of my friends did not respond. Not everybody is familiar with zoom so they could have asked me what my message was about. No reaction on their part. 

I have learned to get past these behaviors. It affects me for a few minutes, and then I move on. I concentrate on people who responded to my message.  

I do the same when I organize a party and people send me messages to cancel at the last minute. Instead of feeling sad, I put all my positive energy on my friends who could join.  

Some people intend to answer your messages, but they have forgotten. Let me give you some of my tricks to ensure that my messages don’t remain unanswered. Every day on my way home after work, I go through my phone and I check my messages on the different platforms. I have a one-hour train ride, so it gives me sufficient time. Another trick is to read the messages via the notification push. I don’t open them, so I won’t forget to answer them. 

Photo by Linus Nylund on Unplash

Greeting you 

I went to college for a few years in Belgium, and I finished in the States. I had told my friend Sigal from Chile that in Belgium I had spent weeks with the same students because we had all of our oral exams together. We would exchange tips and class notes with each other. When the new academic year started, they would not greet me anymore. When meeting in the auditorium, they would look away to avoid eye contact. My friend Sigal had a hard time believing that such behavior could exist. I remember the look on her face. She thought that I was joking.  

I live in a country where it is not a habit to greet someone that you don’t know well. You barely greet your neighbor or people that you meet every day during your commute or at work. Sometimes, I do. I smile or I nod my head. Most of the time, there is no response. It feels as if I’m begging for money. I live in a cul-de-sac with 50 houses. I know the neighbors living close to my house. When I meet the other ones, they don’t greet me. I don’t want you to assume that people in Belgium don’t greet each other. I won’t make that conclusion. People living in the countryside are friendlier. However, this is not my environment.  

When I was living in the States, and I was going to Belgium on holiday I always had to change my behavior. As soon as I was boarding the plane and walking through the aisle, I had to switch my mind. I would refrain from smiling to other passengers if there was eye contact. Sometimes, I would forget and smile, but they would be no response.  

My husband grew up in central Africa where people in the same neighborhood know each other. He would know every family living in his street. I wish to have experienced that in my life.  

I try to be a role model for my children. I teach them respect. I want them to express gratitude and appreciation. Good manners are not old-school. I encourage them to call their grandparents instead of texting. They will always prefer hearing a warm voice instead of receiving a written message. 

 “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie 

8 comments
  1. Generation or culture differences? It seems we should be happy with emojis responses. Nice article…

  2. Très intéressant, Patricia. Je dirais qu’il y a des sujets qui paraissent évidents mais a propos desquels on ne se pose pas de questions. Toi tu les poses et ça fait réfléchir. C’est clair que beaucoup de choses viennent de l’éducation, puis de l’environnement dans lequel l’on évolue. Savoir mettre des mots derrière des actes c’est les avoir remarqués. C’est d’être attentif, non seulement à ce qui t’entoure et donc ton ego, mais aussi être attentif à l’autre.
    Et oui, on ne se pose peut être pas assez de questions, mais nous sommes aussi tous différents, certains se contentent de peu, d’autres ont besoin de plus d’interaction.
    Merci pour ton article 🙂

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