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'Thank You,' the Common Expression that's Not Common


September 18 , 2021
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at kidyyidnekachew@gmail.com. )


If asked to name one of the most important phrases to humankind, I would probably say ‘thank you.' Yes, that is the magic word.

How much nicer would our lives be if we showed gratitude more often?

Whenever I go to my friends' houses, filled with guests, everybody seems happy dining and conversing. Then, the maid brings everyone coffee, but nobody says “thank you” to her. After all, it is her job, and that is what she is paid to do. But we go to a government’s office and often thank them for their service.

Why do we think our maids are less worthy of our gratitude?

Doing house chores and maintaining a home is not easy. Otherwise, we would not have paid somebody else to do it for us.

Why do we not say thank you to the teachers that spend their days educating and shaping our children, instead of yelling at them because they occasionally yelled at our kids? Why do we not appreciate them for their patience dealing with our kids?

Children are tough to handle, and any engagement with them requires a kind heart and patience. We should not see past their incompetence and mistakes, but we should start with admiring their efforts.

“Ethiopians are not big on saying ‘thank you.’ They would rather say, ‘you could do better, don’t expect me to thank you for that,’” a relative of mine once said. “A non-national would thank you for a piece of paper, but when you do something for people here, they always expect more. If you give them a paper, they expect a book; if you buy them clothes, they expect shoes to go with it.”

There could be some exaggerations there, but we have a poor culture of saying “thank you.” We say it in restaurants just fine, but not in our household where it is much needed.

How many of us show the appropriate amount of gratitude to our parents because they are wonderful and did a great job raising us? How many of us say “thank you” to our spouses, friends, colleagues and whoever is in our lives for their support and their roles in our lives? Even our children; do we thank them for being good, for listening to us?

It is easier to be kind to strangers than family, probably because we do not live with them. I am surrounded by people who appreciate me and, on many occasions, thank me for the things I do for them and for the person I am in general. I do not always return the favour and thank them even though I, too, am grateful to have them in my life.

There was a time when I was frustrated with life and felt like I was spreading myself thin trying to be there for everyone, and I was on the verge of quitting because the stress was too much. Then one of my friends, out of the blue, called me and told me that I was doing a good job.

“Thank you for being such a reliable friend and a nice person,” she said. “Give yourself a hug for me.”

The gesture brought tears to my eyes. It instantly made me feel better because I felt appreciated and realised my friendship was valued.

Good and bad are not always on the opposite end of the spectrum, as we are often led to believe. Sometimes a single act can send us down the wrong or the right path. If we do not thank and appreciate the people who care for us, they will get fed up and will stop caring overall. Eventually, they would become less and less kind. We should never ignore or take for granted a kind gesture our loved ones or even strangers show us, and we should at least applaud their efforts and show gratitude.

It will not set us back a penny, but it will brighten someone’s mood and day. The new Ethiopian year, 2014, should be one where we take the effort to say “thank you” to the people in our lives that deserve it.



PUBLISHED ON Sep 18,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1116]



Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at kidyyidnekachew@gmail.com.





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