CREDOS : Art of thanking

I hated writing thank you notes as a child, but I had no choice: My mother was adamant about honouring other people’s kindness and generosity. She was like a master composer, insisting that her protégé practice thank-you-note scales. But now, after a childhood spent crafting those notes, the music of gratitude flows naturally from me.

For example, I hired Brant to build an arbour around my front door. Marvelling at the arbour’s beauty, I called Brant a few weeks after the arbour went up. He answered the phone defensively. “What can I do for you?” he asked. “I am calling to say ‘Thank you.’” Silence. “What do you mean?” he asked. “I love my arbour, and I wanted you to know how much I appreciate your work.” More silence. “I’ve been doing this work for 20 years, and no one has ever called to thank me for it,” said Brant. “People only call me when they have problems.” He was incredulous.

I had a similar experience with LJ, who sold me my car at the Honda dealership. I wrote to let him know that I was happy with my car choice. LJ called me a few days later to say that this was the first thank you note in the history of the dealership.

Encounters like these give me pause. Are we really living in an age when feedback loops only close with complaints? It seems to me that when we focus on problems, we only foster dissatisfaction and resentment. But when we focus on celebrating goodness, we are likely to tune into what is good. —