Sustaining Gratitude in Society

Sadly, many folks are too busy running the rat race to say, “Thank you.”  I remember sitting in a Sunday School class of young students during my college experience at Southern University.

I remember one student saying how ungrateful he had been toward his parents.  I also felt guilty.  My parents bought me my first car while I was in high school; most students did not have cars. 

I had envisioned receiving a brand new car.  Well, I didn’t. I got an old 1973 Dodge Charger.  I was disappointed.  But, I fell in love with that old car which I later called “The New Wave Cruise mobile.”  My car was far more dependable than most automobiles. 

I remember never having said “thank you” for my car – I had also taken my parents for granted.  Our society doesn’t teach us that being appreciative is a virtue.  This article examines the importance developing a spirit of gratitude as a competitive advantage toward employability.

Organizations should incorporate gratitude into their corporate culture.  Managers and workers would operate differently.  This attribute is all about character. Gratitude can be defined as the quality of being thankful; it is a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.  In the fast pace of industrial living, people aren’t saying “thank you” to anyone. Most people feel they deserve any kind act done for them.  

In fact, a selfish society creates a generation of ungrateful children.  Consequently, our children grow up with this huge expectation of social pampering. 

Why else would a) waiters expect tips without good service, b) students expect good grades without the effort, and c) couples want great relationships without any communication.  All of these unrealistic expectations make “thank you” less important. 

As the economy continues to spiral downward, organizations attempt to differentiate themselves from the competition. It starts with the greatest asset…people! High performing organizations understand this critical point! Badly run organizations don’t!

When you show someone some gratitude after they assist you, that individual will likely continue to help or do more for you. However, if you are ungrateful, many times people will not do any more for you. Businesses are no exception.  Showcasing a spirit of gratitude can be very rewarding and can assist in transforming an organization’s competitive advantage.

Discuss your personal experiences on this topic.

© 2011 by Daryl D. Green                                    


9 thoughts on “Sustaining Gratitude in Society

  1. You hit the nail on the head with this comment… “It starts with the greatest asset…people! High performing organizations understand this critical point! Badly run organizations don’t!” You are so right. I agree we live in a thank you-less society, I am sometimes – as I suspect we all are – a perpetrator of perpetuation of this society. One thing I have done to bring this into perspective in my daily life is pretty simple, but helps remind me to be grateful for the people i work with, even if what they’ve told me is bad new or good. I have started completing my emails with Thank You, not thanks, not regards, nothing other than Thank You. I feel it is important to add the You. It’s only three more letters to type and, I hope, it ensures the reader I’m giving them the attention they need. Furthermore, I know it’s probably not proper grammar to capitalize the Y, but I think it shows that I think enough of You to address you with a “proper noun.” Creating a grateful culture is even more important at this uncertain economic time.

    Thank You,

    • Mike, I think you are right to choose your expression of gratitude wisely. In the article, “Don’t forget to say thank you: The effect of an acknowledgement on donor relationships,” Merchant et al describe a study that monitored the affect on donor relationships with nonprofit organizations through acknowledgement and thanking of the donors. The results were that acknowledgement increased the frequency with which donors gave and strengthened relationships with less frequent donors (Merchant, 607). This certainly quantifies and reinforces the importance of gratitude and appreciation, not only in passing, but also in good business practices.

      Merchant, A., Ford, J. B., & Sargeant, A. (2010). ‘Don’t forget to say thank you’: The effect of an acknowledgement on donor relationships. Journal Of Marketing Management, 26(7/8), 593-611. doi:10.1080/02672571003780064

  2. In gNeil’s article on thanking employees, he states that ” Unappreciated employees have more accidents, take more sick days, work less effectively and are less creative. These are the people who are most likely have a resume at the ready at all times” (gNeil, 2009). It takes just a minute to thank an employee who does a report, that is expected of them anyway and the feeling attached to being appreciated can lead to a happier employee. I always feel “giddy”, when my boss thanks me for something so simple as a report.

    As strategic managers, it is imperative that we keep and motivate our team members. Saying thank you not only motivates them, but they feel appreciated and that the work is not in vain. Do not dismiss the power of two simple words and the productivity that it can bring about.

    Works Cited
    gNeil. (2009, March 30). Are you saying thank you to your employee? Why gratitude is the key to business success. Retrieved November 26, 2011, from gNeil:

  3. The lack of gratitude is something I have noticed for a long time not only in business, but also in general life. I’ll go one step further than even saying thank you. Most people do not even acknowledge the thank you anymore. They simply go on about whatever they are doing or have on their mind. I was taught to say you’re welcome after someone says thank you to acknowledge them. I try to thank people whether they do anything or not. I think when you acknowledge someone’s efforts, no matter how minor they may be, then the person will work even harder with or for you. I’ve seen it work in the workplace as an effective tool. I’ve also seen the opposite true as well. If no one ever shows any gratitude for a worker, then the worker is less than willing to offer his/her best work.

  4. I have noticed the lack of gratitude from many aspects of life. The job environment may be the biggest for me. Management seems like they are just issuing demands and they don’t seem to appreciate the people doing the job anymore. I will sometimes receive a “thank you” from a manager, and when I do, there isn’t resentment for having to do a job, even when it’s something I shouldn’t have to be doing. Luckily, most of my family and friends show gratitude, even for smaller things like handing them something. Showing appreciation is very important for building relationships in business and in life. Not only is it the right way to react to people, it should help others see the benefits of being appreciative.

  5. Gratitude is a powerful tool that should be ingrained in the hearts of everyone and every culture, unfortunately it is not. In the work place I have noticed over the years that those leaders who advance and or maintain a position within the organization are also those who show a genuine gratitude for those that they work with. The use of “Thank You” in today’s social media and e-commutation is often lacking. I try to always use thank you when responding in emails and often that is the difference in receiving a quick reply or getting a project accomplished.

  6. In the last two decades, evidence has accumulated that transformational and gratitude charismatic leadership is an influential mode of leadership that is associated with high levels of individual and organizational performance Leadership effectiveness is critically contingent on, and often defined in terms of, leaders’ ability to motivate followers toward collective goals or a collective mission or vision. Scholars who have investigated transformational and charismatic leadership have, in many cases, discussed motivational constructs as central components in their frame-works.
    In fact, researchers have explicitly defined transformational leadership in terms of the motivational effects it has on followers. Although recent work has stressed the importance of motivation to leadership processes, the leadership literature, in general, has paid limited attention to the underlying psychological processes and mechanisms through which leaders motivate followers. Recent developments in motivation theory stress the importance of people’s self-regulatory focus as a central component shaping their motivations and behavior. Recent developments in motivation theory stress the importance of people’s self-regulatory focus as a central component shaping their motivations and behavior. This theoretical development may be helpful in attempting to understand the ability of leaders to influence and motivate followers by arousing different self-regulatory of followers.

  7. Growing up in a very country style home-life my parents taughts my siblings and I that manners would get further down the highway called life, than any amount of money could. We were taught to say yes and no sir, to say please and thank you. We were taught how to be apperciative when people would assist you with any task. Of course we were often quoted the golden rule; “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

    These were the rules of the house, you had better mind your manners out in public, church and school or your were in some major (hot seat) trouble when mom or dad found out. These were the qualities of my generation and I still practice them today. I learned very early that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinerger.

    I think these are the same qualties and traits that organizations and businesses of today assume their employees have already been taught from their parents while growing up. However, they are sadly wrong, because our socity is at the point where the young adults of today are actually the children of children (prior to birth control). Since their parents were only children when becoming parents they had no respects for manners, therefore teaching manners to their children was not a high priority or they did not what to teach them. It is for this reason I feel more and more teachers at the elementary level are striving to teach young children their manners, they are required skills of the future. Just ask the managers, supervisors, and CEO’s of the largest organizations.

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