10 Situations to Use “Thank You” instead of “I’m Sorry”
“Thank you” is used to express gratitude and appreciation for others. It’s a very powerful phrase that takes away from ourselves and gives warmth to those around us. The amount of appreciation we express, and our ability to sincerely say “thank you” has a dramatic impact on how we relate to others.
While apologizing is seen as a correct response to something we’ve done wrong, it leads to the assumption that other people are appreciative of our politeness and good manners but since it can be overused so much, it can actually become an empty automatic response with no real meaning.
Why Using “Thank You” can be SO much more Powerful!
1. Say “Thank You” when you’re receiving a compliment.
We often ruin compliments by brushing off the statement or acting overly humble. On some level, you might think this prevents you from appearing arrogant or smug.
When you deflect 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 outfit 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! You played really 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: “Your presentation was incredible!”
- Instead of: “Really? I felt so nervous up there. I’m glad it looked alright.”
- Try saying: “Thank you. I’m happy it went well.”
There is something empowering about fully accepting a compliment. When you deflect praise, you can’t really own it. When you just say “Thank You,” you let the weight of the complement sink in and become yours. Saying “Thank You” gives you permission to fully appreciate the compliment you receive.
Most people want to give genuine praise, 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. Saying Thank You allows that to happen.
2. Say “Thank You” when you’re running late.
Being late can feel frantic and stressful. 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 the correct response. Most people stumble in the door and say, “Sorry I’m late.”
This response still makes the situation about you. Sorry, I’m late. Saying “Thank You” actually turns the tables and acknowledges the sacrifice the other person made for you by waiting.
Example: You walk in the door 10 minutes late.
- Instead of: “So sorry I’m late. Traffic was crazy.”
- Try saying: “Thank you for your patience, I appreciate you waiting for me.”
When we make a mistake, someone else often makes a sacrifice for us. Our default response is to apologize for our failure, but the better approach is to praise their patience and loyalty. It usually come across as a positive response for you and the person who waited.
3. Say “Thank You” when you’re comforting someone.
When someone comes to you with bad news, it can be awkward. You want to be a good friend, but most people don’t know what to say. I know I’ve felt that way before.
Oftentimes, we think it’s a good idea to add a silver lining to the problem. “Well, at least you have…”
What we fail to realize is that it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what to say. All you really need is to be present and thank them for trusting you.
Example: Your co-worker’s mother passed away recently.
- Instead of: “At least you have a lot of fond memories to hold onto.”
- Try saying: “Thank you for sharing that with me. I know this is a hard time for you.”
Example: Your brother lost his job.
- Instead of: “At least you have your health.”
- Try saying: “Thank you for sharing this with me. I’m here to support you.”
Example: Your friend’s pet just died.
- Instead of: “At least they had a long and happy life.”
- Try saying: “Thank you for sharing that with me. I’m here for you.”
In times of suffering, we don’t need to hear words to ease the pain as much as we need someone to share our pain. When you don’t know what to say, just say “Thank You” and be there.
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 really 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 good data for us so we can adjust. Respond to helpful feedback with thanks and use it to become better.
5. Say “Thank You” when you’re receiving unfair criticism.
Sometimes criticism isn’t helpful at all. It’s just vindictive and mean. 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, clearly, 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.”
6. Say “Thank You” when someone gives you their unsolicited opinion or advice.
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. Instead of some push back comment, why not try the better approach? Just say “Thank You.”
Example: “You know to have proper form, you should really 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 others’ faults doesn’t remove your own. Thank people for raising your self-awareness, even if it was unsolicited.
7. Say “Thank You” when someone Catches a Mistake.
Say someone catches a mistake in a project you are working on.
- Instead of, “Oh, I’m sorry!”
- Try Saying, “Thanks! Good catch!”
8. Say “Thank You” when Someone has given you their time.
Have you talked with a good friend and ended up confiding in her? Sometimes it can feel like you talked your good friend’s ear off!
- Instead of : “Sorry I rambled.”
- Try Saying: “Thank you for listening to all of that!”
- Instead of “Sorry I took up so much of your time,”
- Try Saying“Thanks for spending so much time with me today, I value our friendship!”
Your friend willingly listened, so saying thank you Acknowledges their kindness and their time spent with you.
9. Say “Thank You” when you are not able to attend an event.
If you have been invited to an event or to participate in something that you are unable to attend, rather than apologizing try thanking them for the invitation.
- Instead of “Sorry I can’t make it tomorrow,”
- Try Saying “Thank you so much for the invitation, I hope it is a success!”
You can convey appreciation and encouragement rather than focusing on the fact you aren’t able to attend. You may be more likely to receive an invitation again.
10- Say “Thank You” when you’re not sure if you should thank someone.
When in doubt, just say thank you. There is no downside. Are you honestly worried about showing too much gratitude to the people in your life?
“Should I send a Thank You card in this situation?” Yes, you should.
“Should I tip him?” If you don’t, at least say thank you.
By saying “thank you”, you are identifying the other person and you are recognising their contribution. So if you really want to apologise to someone in an authentic way then make it about them. Allow the complement to match the situation and even elaborate on why you appreciate someone for giving you their time by saying how much it means to you.
Saying sorry comes very easily to us and while we may mean it whole-heartedly and it seems like the correct and polite response to use, by using this method, we are inadvertently taking our appreciation for them away.
By recognising the other person’s feelings and acknowledging them, you are praising the act they did because of you and allowing both of you a more positive experience.