Thank you. Those two little words can mean the world – but is the old-fashioned art of writing cards to say them dying out?
While many of us may fire off a email, compose a WhatsApp or post a Facebook message to express our gratitude these days, new research has revealed that putting pen to paper and sending a thank you card could be much more beneficial for everyone involved.
The research, conducted at the University of Chicago and the University of Texas at Austin, showed that sending letters to share our thanks can promote feelings of wellbeing for both parties, and make us feel less awkward about sharing our emotions.
Scientists asked participants to pen a letter to someone they wanted to say thank you to, and predict how they thought the person receiving the note would feel. In almost every case, they overestimated how uncomfortable recipients might feel, and underestimated how positive the response would be.
‘We looked at what’s correlating with people’s likelihood of expressing gratitude – what drives those choices – and what we found is that predictions or expectations of that awkwardness, that anticipation of how a recipient would feel – those are the things that matter when people are deciding whether to express gratitude or not,’ explained Amit Kumar, assistant professor of marketing at University of Texas at Austin.
‘People often fret that they won’t be able to express their appreciation eloquently enough. When we’re thinking about ourselves, we tend to think about how competent we are, and whether we are going to be articulate in how we’re expressing gratitude.’
‘What we saw is that it only takes a couple of minutes to compose letters like these, thoughtful ones and sincere ones. It comes at little cost, but the benefits are larger than people expect.’