Exploring how kindness and appreciation flow back and forth in couples, Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D, examined how people habitually express appreciation to their partners. Turns out some people say “thanks” better than others.
Whereas many people express their appreciation to others by highlighting the benefit they received – the gift, the favor, or the kind deed itself – Dr. Frederickson discovered the best “thank-you” shines a spotlight on the good qualities of the other person.
Compared to expressions that merely focus on the benefits, those that also focus on benefactors make the partner who hears that “thanks” feel understood, cared for, and validated. And this good feeling – the feeling that their partner really gets them and cherishes them – allows people to walk around each day feeling better about themselves and better about their relationship.
Make no mistake, this expression of gratitude is not a substitute for developing an autonomous sense of worth. It is, however, an excellent forecast for becoming more sold and satisfied in relationship.
So, it turns out that mom’s advice comes with a plus side. Saying “thanks” isn’t just a matter of being polite, it’s a matter of being loving.