How to Show Gratitude and Give Thanks

Posted on January 11, 2018 by Shawn Friday, MEd, LPC, CEAP

Updated April 21, 2020

Gratitude is defined as the state of being grateful: thankfulness. It is the feeling or showing of appreciation and kindness. Sincere expressions of gratitude take little time, cost nothing and can go a long way in creating a positive environment at home and in the workplace.


Why Gratitude Matters

An article in the Harvard Business Review states in the general population only 15% of employees say thank you at work, and 35% say their managers never say thank you. However, if a person’s contributions are acknowledged as useful and appreciated, they are more likely to help again later.

January is National Thank You Month, so in the spirit of gratitude, here are some tips about how to say thanks and why you should show gratitude toward your colleagues.

Why Say Thanks

  • 90% of individuals see a personal thank you for work well done as very important.
  • 81% of individuals would work harder for a boss who was more grateful.
  • More than 50% would stay with their organization longer if they felt appreciated by their manager, according to
  • HR Online states psychological research shows a consistent and strong association between gratitude and level of happiness; meaning more positive emotions, better relationships, better health and more resilience from stressful events.
  • Genuinely grateful people have healthier hearts, stronger immunity and lower blood pressure, according to Harvard Health.

How to Say Thanks

Consider these specific ways to make your thanks meaningful.

  • Focus on the positive. Use positive words instead of negative. For example, say, “I’ll always remember” rather than “I’ll never forget.” The shift may seem insignificant, but the difference is big on the receiving end. Avoid adding “but” at the end of your thanks and tacking on implied criticism.
  • Say it like you mean it. Authenticity is crucial. When expressing thanks, do so with intention and focus. If saying thanks in-person, look the person in the eye. If you are saying thank you on the phone, avoid multi-tasking.
  • Make it personal. Write a handwritten thank you note or leave a voicemail. A quick email is more likely to be deleted.
  • Go above and beyond. Thank individuals across the organization, including those you do not normally interact with. This may include front office staff, business staff or maintenance teams. Get to know your co-workers!
  • Be specific. Give a specific reason for praise; it’s more effective than a general “great job.”
  • Be timely. Do not save a thank you for an annual performance evaluation or wait until they stack up. Timely appreciation is more powerful.
  • Take gratitude seriously. If you say, “I really appreciate you pulling together the data on the new development. Who’d ever have guessed you’d get it done so fast?” the individual will remember the dig, not the gratitude.

If you are not someone who says thank you on a regular basis, consider making it a priority. A little bit of gratitude can go a long way in contributing to healthier, more positive relationships — at home and at work.

We Can Help

Focusing on gratitude has been shown to improve your emotional and relational well being. Every dimension on the Wheel of Well Being is essential to your overall happiness and life satisfaction. But we understand life is a journey, and if you feel like one dimension, or several dimensions, are out of balance, we have resources and solutions to help you find your equilibrium.

As part of your VITAL WorkLife benefit you have access to a wealth of information on the Member Site or through your VITAL WorkLife App, including well being articles, a gratitude assessment, videos and more. Call VITAL WorkLife to speak with a representative anytime, day or night, for the support you and your loved ones need.

  • EAP members: call 800.383.1908
  • Physician and Provider Well Being Resources members: call 877.731.3949

For more information about our comprehensive suite of well being solutions, contact us online or at 800.383.1908.


Green S, Gino F, Grant A. The Big Benefits of a Little Thanks. Harvard Business Review. Published March 30, 2015.

Tierney T. How To: The Most Important Words You'll Say Today. Published March 14, 2016.

Acurantes L. The benefits of 'workplace gratitude'. HR Online. Published November 22, 2016.

Publishing HH. In Praise of Gratitude. Harvard Health. Published November 2011.

Interested in learning more?

Contact Us


Tags in this post

All Entries

Get New Insights Delivered to Your Inbox