Thursday, 3 July 2014

Sorry seems to be the hardest word ... or is it thank you?

"Don't play with your food" ... "don't take sweets from strangers, they might have poison in them" ... "don't swallow your chewing gum, it'll knot up your insides and don't swallow your orange pips or you'll have a tree growing out of your bum" ! Such were some of the words of wisdom I remember hearing from my nan when I was growing up. Another one was "mind your Ps and Qs". Now, I always thought this meant mind your p's for please and q's ('kyous) for thankyous but I've just discovered it probably comes from pints and quarters and is a reminder to pub landlords not to mix up the figures on their bar tabs when totting up how much their customers owe them. Either way, every Christmas and birthday, I knew I'd be sitting down with some nice new flowery notelets and envelopes, writing thank you notes to everyone who gave me a present. Nobody sends letters these days, let alone flowery handwritten notelets by snail-mail, but is the word thankyou turning into one the most underused in the modern English language?

Well, Philips certainly seem to think so. For their new Great Big Little Thank You campaign, they undertook some research which revealed that :
- 82% of respondents wish they received more thanks for the little things they do for others everyday

- two fifths of Brits admit they forget to say thank you to others for the everyday tasks they do for them

- British people are more likely to say thank you to a stranger than their own friends, work colleagues or siblings

- One in ten claim their busy lifestyle means they don’t have time to say thank you

Despite the average Brit claiming to say thank you 6.9 times a day, appreciation of our gratitude is more likely to extend to an unknown who opens a door for us (60%) than to a friend who picks the kids up from school (25%) or cooks us a meal (20%). However, two thirds recognised the need to say more thanks for the little, everyday things, with our parents topping the poll of those people we believe deserve the most thanks with a whopping 80%. Our mums and dads were closely followed by grandparents (21%), friends (15%), retail staff (15%) and waiters or waitresses (10%) as those people Brits believe are most in need of a proper thank you.

Dr Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness, commented on the findings : "Too often we take our loved ones and friends for granted, or we assume they know how much we appreciate them. But we should never underestimate the power of a simple thank-you - or how great it feels when we go out of our way to remind someone that we really appreciate them.

Sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest difference. For example, research has shown that when people are asked to write and give a thank you letter to someone they're really grateful to, it gives them a huge happiness boost and significantly reduces their likelihood of feeling anxious or depressed over the next two weeks. Deep down we all want to feel loved and appreciated. Saying thank you is one of the simplest and most important ways of showing people that we care and helping them feel valued".

Philips is encouraging people to start celebrating those little everyday things people do for us with a Great Big Little Thank You. In order to show your gratitude to someone special for the little things they do, post your thank you using the hashtag #BigLittleThanks. To find out more about the campaign visit and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Philips asked me to spend a day consciously saying ‘thank you’ and blog about my experience, thoughts and feelings. Did the experience make me speak to more people, did I feel generally happier, did people react differently towards me? Well, here's how I got on :

- Just before popping off to work, I made a conscious effort to say to my eldest daughter Sophie "thanks for taking the kids to school, I do appreciate it" - she barely grunted and didn't look up from her screen but, as I picked up my keys, she did say "I can collect them tonight too if you like". Ooh now there's an unexpected bonus - what if saying thank you to people actually makes them more lilely to offer to do things for me?

-As I got off the bus, I said thank you to the bus driver - he looked in his mirror and grinned at me, then drove off with a big smile on his face, which made me grin too !

- One of the pupils at school asked me to lend him a pen. At the end of the lesson, he came to give it back. I said thank you as he handed it to me. He looked confused and said "but it's your pen, you don't need to say thank you". I laughed and said that it doesn't cost a penny to say thank you, even if it's not necessary. Not sure the message got through though !

- As I worked along the dinner line at the canteen, I said thank you to the dinner lady serving. She smiled and popped an extra sausage on my plate without saying a word ! 

- At the supermarket checkout, I bagged up my stuff, gave my bank card to the cashier, she said thank you as she took the card, I said thank you as she gave me the receipt, then as she handed back the card, we both said thank you at exactly the same time and burst out laughing !

- At bedtime, I gave the kids a cuddle and thanked them for things that I usually take for granted - I thanked Pierre for being a good boy and not complaining when it was time to come home from the park and I thanked Juliette for tidying her room without me asking. Pierre gave me an extra big hug back and promised that he'd do the same ALL WEEK ! Juliette smiled and said she'd help Pierre tidy his room tomorrow.

This does seem to suggest that saying thank you more has positive effect on you and those around you. The good news is, Philips have given me a fabulous prize to give away on my blog so the next blog post will give you a chance to practise saying thank you !!

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Tesco Neighbourhood Food Collection Challenge #everycanhelps

Desk Safari Selfies - Welcome to the Madhouse Menagerie !


  1. I remember taking part in the survey :) nice to see the results

  2. Lovely article, though sad in some ways.

  3. I can't believe some people think they are to busy to say Thank You, I mean how long does it take, that's terrible.
    My daughter has taught my grandson to say thank you. After a day out recently, they were on the way home on a bus, when Jake (aged 3 3/4) turned around to her & said "Thank you Mummy I've had the best day out ever" All the older people said to him it was so nice to see a polite little boy. He couldn't actually work out why they were so impressed with him as it is just natural to say thank you.. So proud of him though.

  4. Those two words are so important I agree!

  5. Such a nice uplifting post. It's definitely worth letting everyone know you appreciate them :)