Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

R Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin
No Thanks


Have you ever known anyone who had a difficult time saying thank you? Even after receiving some really lovely gifts, some people chose not to say thank you. Why is it so difficult for them to say those two little words? We are not trying to make them beholden to us. We just want to know that what we gave them was of value or appreciated by them.  In a humorous moment, we considered giving this one person a birthday card with a gift card along with a self-addressed thank you card!

1. A Sense of entitlement
Perhaps one of the reasons that these "no-thanks" people refuse to say thank you is that they have a sense of entitlement. Such people seem to think that others owe them something, so why should they say thank you? Gratitude or acknowledgment could be seen by them as something negative.

2. Embarrassment
One study found another reason that people withhold thanks could be that they feel too vulnerable and are embarrassed. Receiving a gift and having to say thank you is too awkward for them. This reason falls in line with the people I have experienced. They have a difficult time being open and vulnerable. The problem with their not being vulnerable enough to express thanks is that it makes them appear to be lacking in compassion and empathy.
3.  Fear of obligation
However, the most crucial reason that some people find it difficult to thank others is that it can generate feelings of obligation. Their unusual reasoning goes something like this: "If I thank others, then I am obligated to do something nice for them."
Elaine Sihera, in her book The Essential Guide to Confidence, observes: "The minute one is thanked, there is a new channel open between the giver and the recipient that leaves people feeling vulnerable to future actions and expectations, as they are not quite sure what to expect after that. There is a feeling that something else should happen after saying that thank you, but one is never quite sure. So people avoid saying it altogether, to prevent any undue focus on themselves, any new expectations arising because of it, and the avoidance of feeling that one always has to do something similar to reciprocate. In effect, not saying 'thank you' keeps the communication channel conveniently closed."

When the person who has received our gift doesn't acknowledge it, our interpretation is that our gift doesn't matter.

Researchers have found evidence that showing gratitude can make us happier and more satisfied with our lives. Expressing thanks is beneficial to ourselves. It can improve our physical health, strengthen our relationships, and help relieve stress.

I don't know why some people refuse to say thank you, but that should not stop us from being generous and caring. Maybe, in time our modeling will cause them to acknowledge the gifts they receive from us.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700