The Best Ways to Say "Thank You"

Updated on December 15, 2017
Dreamworker profile image

Dreamworker has had a lifetime of experience dealing with various types of relationships successfully.

Saying "thank you" seems like it should be a simple thing to do, but the truth is that many people find this awkward and difficult.

Some even muck it up so badly that it has an effect that is the opposite from the one they wanted to achieve.

The good news is that there are several methods people can use to express their gratitude to one another. Here are some of them.

Choose carefully when it comes to deciding on the best way to show appreciation.
Choose carefully when it comes to deciding on the best way to show appreciation. | Source

Do It the Right Way

No matter which technique you decide to use, make sure that it is suitable to the situation.

  • If you go too far, you make people uncomfortable.
  • If you do or say too little, you make people feel underappreciated.

There is an art to balancing the level of appreciation you show with the behavior that caused you to display it.

Verbal Thanks

When someone does a minor favor for you or does something kind, a simple smile coupled with a "thank you” is the perfect response.

For example:

  • you drop something, and another person picks it up for you,
  • a stranger holds a door open for you or
  • someone heading for the same parking spot as you holds back so that you can have it.

Although these are small things, the people who do them like to know that their actions have been appreciated.

When you fail to respond to them positively, it makes people less likely to want to be kind again and can lead to a good deal of anger and frustration.

Remember the guy who pushed ahead of you in line or the woman who let the door slam in your face as you were leaving the store?

These may have well been individuals who used to do nice things for others but never got thanked for doing them!

Sending Cards and Notes

These days few people take the time to write out a card, address it and mail it to someone who has done something nice for them.

For this reason, doing this is an especially nice way to thank someone who has been kind or who has given you a gift.

Sending an email shows that you really don’t want to spend the time to thank someone properly, so don’t do it.

Another point to remember is that sending cards and notes should be done correctly.

To do this, you need to take the recipients attitudes and tastes into account.

For example, using humor to say thank you in some situations is not acceptable because joking undermines the grateful feelings you are trying to express. What person wants to receive a humorous card for comforting a friend after the death of his child!

You should also avoid sending generic cards. Sending those that are specific to the occasion shows recipients that you cared enough to take the time to shop for just the right card.

Finding ways to show appreciation is one of the things that cements friendships.
Finding ways to show appreciation is one of the things that cements friendships. | Source

What to Write

Always write something personal in addition to the print message that you send. This should be more than “Thanks so much” or “Loved the gift”.

You would do better to say things such as

It was so thoughtful of you to stop by the hospital after my operation. Having a good friend visit really helped me to feel better.


It was so nice of you to have us over for dinner last week. The meal was delicious, but the company was even better.

When sending written cards and notes to the really important people in your life, always go the extra mile.

  • If your in-laws treated you to a movie, invite them to join you to go to an event when you send your card.
  • If your sister brought you a cake, bake some cookies and take them to her along with a thank you note.

Doing these things cements relationships, creates good feelings between people and are well worth doing.


Giving gifts to people to say thank you is a very slippery slope because doing this incorrectly can lead to unexpected and sometimes unhappy results.

For example, awhile back a friend asked my husband to help him with a plumbing problem he was having.

My husband needed to buy a part to do the job correctly, and because his friend knew nothing about plumbing, he had to go pick it up himself.

The bill was $16.

My husband did the work for free, which also saved his friend from having to pay a plumber.

Instead of paying my husband back, the friend waited a few weeks and then gave us a beautiful and expensive heavy glass vase.

It clearly was used, and it came in a box that smelled horribly from third hand smoke. (We do not smoke).

The vase was worth far more than the $16, but we neither wanted nor needed it.

The question was, what should we do with it?

  • We could keep it, but we had no use for it.
  • We could sell it, but what if the friend came to visit and saw that it wasn’t on display?
  • We could return it, but we knew that doing so would hurt his feelings.

In the end we threw the box out, thoroughly washed the vase and kept it, but the truth is that we would have preferred just to have our $16 back and perhaps a nice thank you note.

Due to the fact that the gift was totally inappropriate, the good feelings our friend wanted to create actually left a sour taste in our mouths. The next time he asks my husband to help him, he’ll be busy.

This is typical of the types of thing that happen when people use improper methods to express their thanks. This type of behavior should be avoided at all costs.

Give the Right Gift for the Occasion

If you are going to thank somebody with gifts, make sure that what you give balances what they did or gave to you.

  • If you give something too expensive, you’ll embarrass them and make them feel as though they need to do something equally expensive for you.
  • If you give something that is cheap or in bad taste, you will insult them.
  • If you give them something that clearly is used, you’d do better to give nothing at all.

If there is something special you know for a fact people want to have and that also is appropriate, then give it.

Conversely, you can do something that is more certain such as taking someone out to dinner or sending them a delicacy you know they’ll enjoy.

Always Show Your Appreciation

When in doubt, the very least you should do is to verbally thank someone. Better yet, do it in front of other people if possible and appropriate.

When people do things for others, it rarely is because they want something in return.

Nonetheless, they do like it when people say thanks, and they like it even more when others use the best and most acceptable ways to show their gratitude.

Do you find it difficult to show appreciation to other people?

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Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Sondra Rochelle


    Submit a Comment

    • Dabby Lyric profile image

      Dabby Lyric 4 months ago from US

      You are very welcome!

    • Dreamworker profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 4 months ago from USA

      Dabby Lyric: I totally agree. We have lost our civility to technology and it is ruining the quality of our lives. Hopefully others will read this article and also be reminded that the little things do really count. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Dabby Lyric profile image

      Dabby Lyric 4 months ago from US

      I absolutely Love this article and I appreciate the time you put it to write it. The picture of the flowers is beautiful! It's amazingly tragic that two simple words are barely said these days. Everybody's in a rush to do this and go there. I watched the kid's video and it's telling how the world it right now. It's very hard for me NOT to say Thank you, no matter how minor the situation is.

      Thanks for reminding us how importing being polite is. Saying "please" and "thank you" are like basic phrases the average person learns as a child.

      We have to do better!