The Appreciation Factor

All things Appreciation: Things to Appreciate and the Ways we look at, Show and Think about Appreciation.


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Why Do We Say Thank You?

This will be the first of a three-part post that will focus on saying “thank you” and thank you notes.
 
TY Quote

 

January is National Thank You Month.
(National Thank You Day is 9/15 – Don’t worry I’ll remind you!)
I suspect that it may be due to the fact that many write thank you notes for their holiday gifts this month, so maybe it’s Hallmark generated?  Whatever the reason, make sure you say “thank you,” this month.

 

 

Origin of “Thank You”
The month-long recognition got me thinking about where the saying “thank you” came from.  “Thank you” was taken from the phrase, “I thank you,” which according to Wikipedia’s Word and Phrase Origins, “the word “thank” derives from the Old English verb “pancian,” meaning to give thanks, which in turn derives from the Proto-German term “thankojan,” which also spawned the Middle German term “danken,” meaning to thank.” (PHEW!)  It was meant as a way to express good thoughts or gratitude.  Thank you Wikipedia!

 

 

Thank you noteEarly Thank You Notes
This of course led me to now wonder about the origin of the actual thank you note, so I did some more digging.  ehow.com*  was a great resource where I found out that “thank you notes” started with the Chinese and Egyptians, who shared messages of fortune and goodwill on slips of papyrus.  In the 1400’s, the Europeans expanded this practice and began exchanging and locally delivering handwritten notes as a new way of social expression.

Early versions of what we now know as greeting cards weren’t introduced into America until the mid 1800’s, all thanks to German immigrant Pouis Prang.  However, he wasn’t responsible for the formal practice of writing and sending thank you notes.  We can thank the etiquette books for that, as they began promoting and recommending proper practices for showing our appreciation and the formal writing of thank you notes several years after the greeting cards were introduced.

 

I love showing my appreciation to others for their kindness and assistance and believe that saying “thank you” and sending thank you notes are two of the most important things we can say and do in today’s society.

Too often the practice of expressing one’s gratitude gets lost in the shuffle of daily life or on the flip side is forgone because there are some that feel entitled to any/all assistance.  On this latter view, these people often feel that because they deserve the kind gesture, help or good will, there is no reason to say “thank you.”  I strongly disagree with this notion.  Kindness and assistance are things that are shared and given by another – they are not a given right.  To say thank you only takes a minute, or a little longer if you are sending a note, but extends the kindness further.

 

Here Are Just a Few Reasons To Say “Thank you”**

  • When you are the recipient of a gift
  • When someone (family member, friend or stranger) holds the door open for you
  • When a colleague, co-worker or industry professional has provided their time, advice, assistance or an introduction
  • When the restaurant server at your table brings the food and after she/he has cleared the table
  • When a family member has helped you in one way or another — yes they deserve to hear it too!

** Some of these instances would also be followed up with a handwritten or typed note.

 

Three-Part Post
As noted earlier, this will be part of a three-part post.  In my follow-up posts, I’ll focus on when to send thank you notes and tips on writing them for personal and business/professional audiences.  Please feel free to send me your ideas and input on this subject.  I’ll do my best to incorporate your feedback into these two posts.

 

Have you said “thank you” recently?

 

*Additional thanks to Jennifer Dermondy’s ehow.com article.


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RSVP – Pretty Please!

My best friend recently lamented to me about her challenge with RSVP’s for her son’s upcoming 5th Birthday party.  She was going all out and the venue required a final headcount a week out.  The problem, not all of her guests had RSVP’d by the date that she had provided on the invitation.  I could sympathize, I’ve been there myself.

Her call led me to think about RSVP’s and what they mean to us today and how we think about them.

The History
RSVP stands for Répondez, s’il vous plaît or “Please Respond.”  Created in the late 18th centry by the French, and later adopted by high society England.  Today, RSVPs seem to have be a little lost in their translation.  One reason may be the modern twist of including “Regrets Only” to the end, which asks the recipient to respond only if he/she cannot attend.  

On my part, I’ve always believed that if you are invited to attend something that you should always respond, regardless of your answer.  I also include a RSVP at the bottom of all of my invitations (hand written, printed or emailed).  I find it especially crucial when I’ve planned a large event where I need to purchase and/or cook food, book a venue, or reserve a reservation.  Plus in planning the event, I am excited about getting everyone together.  I want everyone I’ve invited to show up…or at the very least let me know if they cannot.

That said I tend to take it personally when I don’t hear from someone who I’ve invited.  And despite the growing idea/excuse that people don’t understand the meaning of RSVP, I can often feel as though my guests don’t appreciate me enough to respond or worse yet, I imagine that they are waiting for a better offer for that night!  Should I not take it personally and/or is this too cynic a view?

 

RSVP Etiquette
I did some research about RSVP etiquette.  Emily Post’s etiquette on invitations notes that guests who receive an invitation with an “RSVP” are obligated to respond promptly.  In her book, Etiquette “she” goes on to say that, “It is inexcusably rude to leave someone who has invited you to a party left with no idea on whether you will attend or not.”  Well!  Maybe my hurt feelings shouldn’t be completely disregarded.

Ms. Post notes that you should reply in the manner indicated on the invitation. 
Here are some tips:

  1. RSVP with Response Card:  Fill in and reply by the date indicated and return in the enclosed envelope. **Remember to clearly indicate the total number attending or just yourself, if the option to bring a guest has not been extended.
  2. RSVP with Phone NumberTelephone and make sure to speak in person – answering machines can be unreliable. (Some find this debatable what with our overtaxed lives.)
  3. RSVP with Email:   You may accept or decline electronically.
  4. Regrets Only:  Reply only if you cannot attend. If you do not respond, you are expected to attend!
  5. No Reply RequestedUnusual, but it is always polite to let someone know of your intentions. A phone call would be sufficient.

As I shared with my friend, in the worst case scenario, as the host(ess), you are with in your rights to call and follow-up with those guest who have  not replied.  Hopefully they will feel a little sheepish for having to be tracked down.

Remember your host(ess) cares about you.  He or she thinks that much of you that they want to extend an invitation to join them, share in their happiness, celebrate etc .  Don’t you appreciate the friendship enough to take two minutes to reply?   If you don’t, Emily Post, Miss Manners, Helena Echlin of Table Manners on Chow.com and even Wikipedia, all agree, don’t be surprised if you are left off of future guest lists if you fail to respond.

Have you sent invitations where no one replied or you had to chase down friends to see if he/she was going to attend or not?


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Lent – A Slightly Different Approach

Today starts the first day of Lent, the Christian observance of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.  For those of you who might not know…  Lent as described by Wikipedia, is traditionally marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance, (regret for and amending of our sins) for 40 days.  Many who observe Lent may fast or give up favorite things like chocolates, alcohol or swearing, others may attend church services more regularly to renew their faith.

After speaking with my minister a few years ago, I have taken a slightly different tack when it comes to Lent.  Rather than giving up luxury items or fasting, I try to be a better person in my treatment, care, and interaction of/with others for those 40 days.     

 Some examples of how I’ve participated in Lent have been:

  • Working at my local food bank   
    I’ve continued doing this to this day
  • Taking the higher road/giving the benefit of doubt when faced with adversity
    I try to put myself in the other person’s shoes.  Perhaps their anger or rudeness is not really about me (even though may seem like it).  Perhaps he/she is just having a really bad day and I’m in front of them.  Reacting to their rudeness or anger it may only escalate it or extend it to others later in the day.  Same goes for someone who cuts me off. I try to think that they are in a bigger hurry than me.  (Note:  Candidly, this perspective doesn’t always work, but I do try to put it into practice when I can!)
  • Practicing random acts of kindness
    I’ve added change to an expiring meter, helped someone up the stairs, and simply just held the door open for someone else.
  • Appreciating the things that I have in my life vs. the things that I do not
    I’ve found this last one harder at times to accept, because there are times I’ve yearned for things that I wanted vs. needed.  So perhaps in retrospect, this is the one I should really focus on during each Lenten season and beyond because it talks about giving things up.

Maybe I’m taking more of a modern twist on the whole Lenten season or I’m missing the point.  I’m just not sure I see the value or what I would truly take away from just giving up my favorite foods for 40 days when I know that I can have them again in March or April.  Perhaps this true appreciation and the act of helping is a better way to look at this time of year, at least for me.  I know it makes me feel like I’m making a difference in making my community and my world a better place.  And hey, if I can continue to do these things beyond the allocated 40 days, all the better.

If you’re celebrating Lent this year, what will be your approach?