thank you, merci, dank je, salamat, gracias: the art of gratitude

How do we say ‘thank you’ in a profound way? A way that connects us on a deeper level, by which we can learn and improve ourselves. I saw an inspiring lecture of Marchall Rosenberg, the founder of ‘Non Violent Communication’, were he explained the key to express our gratitude. We can also use these steps to express what we appreciate in communities we visit.

Marchall explained that at one of his workshops, a woman came to see him and said: “Marchall, you are brilliant!”
Marchall looked surprised and said: “Thank you for saying that, but what did I do?
She said: “Mmm… well, you gave me specific communication tools and I liked what you said there and there,” giving a few examples.
“How do you feel now that you have learned this?” he asked. She said: “I feel hopeful and relieved.”
“What need of yours is being met?” She said: “I have a need to connect with my daughter and I failed to do this for a long time.”

In this simple example, Marchall shows us in 3 steps how we can move from a superficial “You are brilliant” to a deeper response that answers facts, feelings and needs.

Step 1: Express what the person did that you appreciate (and be specific)
Step 2: Express your feelings
Step 3: Which need in your own life is being met through the actions of this person?

This technique resonated with me because it is so simple and it comes from the heart. I always strive for deeper connections. Our words can create heaven or hell. We often underestimate the power of our words –whether we talk to others or ourselves-. Through step 2 and 3, we express how it applies in our own life (yes yes Transfer).
Maybe we can try it out on Ning when we express our gratitude :) ?

I tried it out with my yoga teacher at the end of the class. It was wonderful :) Try it out for yourself...


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Comment by Phil on April 10, 2009 at 5:06pm
Your story pulled together several threads in my thinking in a way that was (for me) was very helpful.

Here are the threads:

1. I once worked for a very wise man who kept on telling me, "So you have learned something. That is of no value whatsoever. In fact, it has taken time and has cost money. What are you going to DO with that you have learned?"
It is very easy to say that we have learned something. It is very much harder to say that we will do something as a result of that learning. For me, Laurence's 3rd question, "What need is being met by what you have just learned?" expresses the same idea in a less brutal and perhaps a more general way.

2. For some time, I have thought hard on the distinction between Support and Appreciate. When we say to someone, "Your are brilliant" (or some such generality) we are supporting them. When we say, "This is what I have learned and here is what that learning can do for me," then we are moving to appreciation. And as Laurence has noticed the consequences of moving from supporting to appreciation can be dramatic and far-reaching.
3. When Ian Campbell first explained to me the idea that I should learn FROM the people I was working with, it was a truly new idea for me. But when you place upon yourself the responsibility to do just that, your challenge is to leave a Salt visit with something that you have learned from the discussion and how that meets a need in your life. And that responsibility (at least in my case) changes my attitude and approach DURING the Salt visit. And then when you tell those same people that this is what you have received from the visit, then I think that you are appreciating them.

So I think that working on the 3 steps that Laurence poses is a very powerful to engage in this wonderful loop of Learning and Supporting and Appreciating....and Learning......

...and now I guess I have to work harder on expressing my feelings...(step 2)

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on April 10, 2009 at 10:57am
Dear Lau,

You have shown me the art of saying thank you, a meaningful way of expressing my gratitude. I applied it rightaway. I just sent a thank you email specifying the reason how the person had helped me. Thanks for teaching me a very important lesson today. We tend to say thank you and sorry at the drop of a hat but but it most often fails to reach the core of the matter. What Khun Usa has said is so true.We often fail to differentiate between praise and genuine appreciation.

I recently read a useful article on how to say sorry and you can check it out at:

Warm regards,

Comment by Usa Duongsaa on April 9, 2009 at 11:49pm
Dear Laurence,

Thank you for a great blog :-)

Why I think it is great? You made a clear point about saying thank you in a profound way and shared what you've read, using an interesting example from Marchall, and summarizing it clearly in 3 steps that we can follow. You certainly made the steps seem quite simple. And you made it more convincing and inspiring by telling us how you tried it yourself with your yoga teacher and how wonderful it was.

How do I feel after reading it? I also feel hopeful and relieved, like that woman.

Why? Because it does meet a need that Dusit and I have felt lately since we started following up with new facilitators and SALT practitioners in several networks. While they very much liked SALT and tried to practice it with the communities, they seemed to focus on doing the appreciating (more than stimulating, analyzing, etc.) and usually the' appreciating' was really 'praising'. So we had a series of discussion with the different teams about other ways of showing appreciation, including in non-verbal ways. We think we'll have to improve on providing more examples of ways to show appreciation (and stimulation, support, transfer, etc.) in future capacity-building sessions so that the new facilitators become clearer and have more insights into how to do it. Obviously the 3 steps you have mentioned in the blog will be another useful example that can be shared.

And it does feel good practising it before sharing with others :-)

So, thank you again for a great blog. Khob khun kha.



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