5 Times You Should Have Said Thank You But Didn’t

Take a look around and you’ll find other dudes that for the most part have a solid grasp on being a human—you know, we breathe, eat, sleep, procreate; rinse, and repeat. But being a good person, which is what I’m assuming that is what you and I are generally going for, requires that we practice a few common courtesies.

Practice is the right word because it takes practice as some of these “common” things change from time to time depending on the current societal norms. So, we might need a brush-up. But I posit that some things are universal, they don’t change, like saying please and thank you.

Thank you is a big one, because it’s an expression of gratitude. Gratitude has positive physical, psychological, and social effects on both the giver and receiver. According to a USC Berkley study of more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, it was found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:


  • Stronger immune systems
  • Less bothered by aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Exercise more and take better care of their health
  • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking


  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More alert, alive, and awake
  • More joy and pleasure
  • More optimism and happiness


  • More helpful and compassionate
  • More forgiving
  • More outgoing
  • Feel less lonely and isolated.

So, now you see why being grateful and expressing that feeling is so important. Amazingly, we don’t say thank you all the time.

But let’s face it, if it starts to get over-used then perhaps the value and meaning will get diluted. So, let’s focus our practice on specific situations and get good at them, okay?

1. Say “Thank You” when you’re receiving a compliment.

We often ruin compliments by devaluing the statement or acting overly humble. Internally, you might think this prevents you from appearing arrogant or smug.

The problem is that by deflecting the praise of a genuine compliment, you don’t acknowledge the person who was nice enough to say something. Simply saying “Thank You” fully acknowledges the person who made the compliment and allows you to enjoy the moment as well.

Example: “Your dress looks great.”
Instead of: “Oh, this old thing? I’ve had it for years.”
Try saying: “Thank you. I’m glad you like it.”

Example: “Wow! 20 points tonight. You played well in the game.”
Instead of: “Yeah, but I missed that wide-open shot in the 3rd quarter.”
Try saying: “Thank you. It was a good night.”

Example: “You killed your presentation today!”
Instead of: “Did I? I felt so nervous up there. I’m glad it looked alright.”
Try saying: “Thank you. I’m happy it went well.”

Something is empowering about fully accepting a compliment. When you deflect praise, you can’t own it. When you just say “Thank You,” you let the weight of the compliment sink in and become yours. Saying “Thank You” gives your mind permission to be built up by the compliments you receive.

Getting compliments should be fun, but we often ruin the experience. There’s no need to sabotage compliments that come your way. Accept them with grace and enjoy the moment.

2. Say “Thank You” when you’re receiving unfair criticism.

Sometimes criticism isn’t helpful at all. It’s just vindictive and mean. I’ve written about how to deal with haters previously, but one of the best approaches is to just say thank you and move on.

When you thank someone for criticizing you, it immediately neutralizes the power of their statements. If it’s not a big deal to you, then it can’t grow into a larger argument.

Example: “This might be good advice for beginners, but anyone who knows what they are doing will find this useless.”
Instead of: “Well, I wrote this for beginners. This might be a surprise, but not everything was written with you in mind.”
Try saying: “Thank you for sharing your opinion. I’ll try to improve next time.”

Example: “Your statement is the dumbest thing I’ve read all week.”
Instead of: “You’re an idiot. Let me tell you why…”
Try saying: “Thank you for the feedback. I still have a lot to learn.”

Releasing the need to win every argument is a sign of maturity. Did someone on the internet say something wrong? So what. Win the argument by the way you live your life.

3. Say “Thank You” when you’re running late.

Being late is the worst. It’s stressful for the person who is running late and it’s disrespectful to the person who is waiting.

It might seem strange to thank someone for dealing with your hassle, but that’s exactly the correct response. Most people stumble in the door and say, “Sorry I’m late.”

The problem is this response still makes the situation about you. Sorry, I’m late. Saying “Thank You” turns the tables and acknowledges the sacrifice the other person made by waiting. Thank you for waiting.

Example: You walk in the door 14 minutes late.
Instead of: “So sorry I’m late. Traffic was insane out there.”
Try saying: “Thank you for your patience.”

When we make a mistake, someone else often makes a sacrifice. Our default response is to apologize for our failure, but the better approach is to praise their patience and loyalty. Thank them for what they did despite your error.

4. Say “Thank You” when you’re receiving helpful feedback.

Feedback can be very helpful, but we rarely see it that way. Whether it is an unflattering performance review from your boss or an email from an unhappy customer, the standard reaction is to get defensive. That’s a shame because the correct response is to simply say, “Thank You” and use the information to improve.

Example: “This work isn’t good enough. I thought you would do better.”
Instead of: “You don’t understand. Here’s what happened.”
Try saying: “Thank you for expecting more of me.”

Example: “I bought your product last week and it already broke. I am not happy with this experience.”
Instead of: “How did you use it? We made it very clear in our terms and conditions that the product is not designed to work in certain conditions.“
Try saying: “Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Please know we are committed to becoming better. Can you share more details about the issue?”

Nobody likes to fail, but failure is just a data point. Respond to helpful feedback with thanks and use it to become better.

5. Say “Thank You” when someone gives you unsolicited advice.

This shows up a lot in the gym. Everybody has an opinion about what your technique should look like. I think most people are just trying to be helpful, but hearing someone’s opinion about you when you didn’t ask for it can be annoying.

One time, someone pointed out some flaws in my squat technique in a video I posted online. I responded sarcastically asking if he had a video of himself doing it correctly. Somewhere deep in my mind, I assumed that if I reminded him that his technique wasn’t perfect, then I would feel better about the fact that mine wasn’t perfect either. That’s an unnecessary and defensive response.

The better approach? Just say “Thank You.”

Example: “You know, you should keep your hips back when you do that exercise.”
Instead of: “Oh really? Do you have a video of yourself doing it so I can see it done correctly?”
Try saying: “Thank you for the help.”

Pointing out other people’s faults doesn’t remove yours. Thank people for raising your self-awareness, even when unsolicited.

Say thank you, more often.

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