How to Remember to Thank Others

Recently, someone did something exceedingly generous for me. Not one of those “open the door when you’re limping” favors, but something beyond that. Way beyond that. And, as I lay in bed the night after said favor, my mind was racing with the various types of things I could do to try and thank this person. Just when I’d hit on what I thought might be the thing, my mind got off on another tangent. (It does that, in the wee hours.)

This time, it began cycling through all the people in the last year or so I had forgotten to thank for something. People who had done small things, people who had done big things, and people who had done all manner of things in the middle to help out yours truly.

The next morning, I sat down and made a list of said people. It wasn’t exceedingly long, so Miss Manners wouldn’t be smacking me upside the head anytime soon, but it certainly wasn’t as short as it could be.

And it made me see the importance of automating even something so personal as thanking someone. Now, by “automate” I don’t mean immediately telling a virtual assistant to set up a monthly honey baked ham subscription to everyone in your contact list. Rather, I mean automating the act of remembering who to thank, and what to thank them with.

There’s one simple way to do this and all it takes is a calendar and fifteen minutes. Likely with a hot beverage by your side.

Put “Who Do I Need to Thank?” into your calendar on a quarterly basis. Drink beverage. Draw up list.


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7 thoughts on “How to Remember to Thank Others

  1. This so resonates with me. Growing up my mother always required us to write thank you cards for gifts, something I continue to this day. I think it is so important and meaningful to be thankful and to communicate that to those who extend their loving kindness to us. Right on!

  2. This is a great post and one worth acting on.

    One trick that works for me is a weekly reminder in my calendar to ‘reach out to your friends’. Similar to your strategy of listing out people who have made a great impact and are in need of thanks, I do the same for the friendships of my lifetime that need to be held up and celebrated so that they don’t evaporate into obscurity. They are fun messages to write and even more spectacular when the intent is returned.

  3. This is a timely article, as you can use November as your first month in your quarterly Thanks-giving!

    Another piece of advice is that a hand-written note goes soooo much farther than electronic communications these days to show gratitude. The small effort it takes to send a card with three sentences can have a lasting impact. (I have a shelf in my office where I display thank-you cards I receive from people, but no shelf where I keep thank-you emails.)

    Thank you for the excellent post Claire!

  4. Recently I’ve had to try and think quickly whether the someone who helped me out expected some kind of financial recompense or whether they did the good deed out of pure kindness and would be offended if I offered something material in return. It’s always a tricky one.

  5. You are so right – if we don’t schedule things we don’t seem to get to them. I know that I have a few things I need to write down in my calendar so I will do them. Thank you for sharing this experience with us.

  6. What a great idea! I like it because it helps remind all of us of the people who make us who we are. I try to thank everyone at the time, but I think people appreciate getting a “thank you” out of the blue about what you’re thanking them for. I know that I appreciate it when someone does that for me. It makes us all feel just a little bit special and depending on the kind you’re having, this can make all the difference in the world.