Creating a new language of thank you. . .

Years ago I was traveling internationally with two friends in ministry. We were on a train, trying to make our way to a home somewhere in the city. At some point we got turned around. We couldn’t read the signs. The people around us were eager to help, but were unable to communicate. After nearly an hour of going from train to train, I heard the most beautiful sound. We literally raced toward the couple having a conversation in English.

In a few moments we were headed in the right direction — all because we were able to communicate.

Did you know there’s a language of “thank you?” 

It is a different way of communicating with those around us. A language of thank you changes the way we speak to each other, has the power to redirect our paths, and even has the ability to change the legacy we leave.

Wow, that’s a lot.

What is a language of thank you?

It starts with an attitude of thank you. 

  • Before we walk into a situation, we prepare our heart to see the good in it.
  • Before we talk with that person, we prepare to see the good in him or her.

Now, maybe as I share that, your thoughts instantly go to difficult people or hard situations. I’m not talking about that at all, though it’s helpful there too. I’m referring to our everyday interactions.

Sometimes my attitude can march into an everyday situation and leave a sour taste.

Sometimes I can be so focused on what is not perfect, including the person standing in front of me, that I’m blind to what is beautiful.

Sometimes my attitude can splash all over those around me, with zero insight into how it lands in the heart of those on the receiving end.

[bctt tweet=”For the next 24 hours, let’s listen w/no agenda, let the other person finish their thought, and pause what we want to say to really tune in to what they are saying. #livingfreetogether ” username=”suzanneeller”]

A language of “thank you” tunes in

When I was on that train, my ears attuned to the words being spoken in English. I recognized it. I understood what was being said. It instantly gave me hope that I would not be lost on the train for the rest of the day.

Tuning in to others means that our language isn’t just one sided. We tune in as we:

  • Listen with no agenda
  • Let the other person finish their thought
  • Temporarily pause what we want to say to really tune in to what they are saying
  • Look into their eyes

These seem simple, but they send a strong signal that you are attuned. As you do, your love language of thank you is developing. You are showing the other person that you are sincerely interested in what they have to share. You may not agree. You may not fully understand what they are saying, but they are worth the effort.


It is marked by sincere and surprising praise

The other day 5-year-old Josiah was sitting nearby. He hadn’t had a very good morning. I pulled him close.

“Hey Josiah,” I said. “You delight me. You really do.”

He looked up. He has heard me say this a hundred times, but on this day — a day when he had lost his cool, was overtired from the holidays, and his five-year-old self had been in timeout more than once — he didn’t expect it.

But I meant it. Yes, he was having a hard morning and his parents were doing a pretty great job of keeping him in check, but this sweet boy delights me. He’s more than a temper tantrum. He’s more than an overtired, over-stimulated little guy. He’s got a smile that goes from ear to ear. He’s funny. He’s tender-hearted.

A language of thank you sees the whole person, not just a bad day or a mistake. We all need that reminder that we are seen, don’t we?

A Challenge. . .

A few years ago I challenged nearly 1,000 women to keep a journal for a week. I asked them to write down a couple of things they hoped to communicate that day, and at the end of the day to write down a few things they actually said.

I loved the feedback. It was real. In the mix was encouragement. Sincere praise. Instruction. Training, teaching, and consequences. Words of love. Some fun stuff like silly jokes.

But some noted that their journals were filled with griping. Complaining. Unkindness. Words that left a sting. Barking out orders. Nagging. Bringing up past issues that have no way of being resolved. Pointing out flaws or faults. Yelling. Chronic negativity.

When they “heard” their love language spoke over family and loved ones, it was a wake-up call.


I challenged those women (and myself) to make a distinction between what they wanted to say, and what their loved ones heard on a daily basis. If the motivation was to encourage, then there needed to be intentional communication. Many later shared that they were surprised at how changing their love language changed a moment, or softened a conversation, or helped a love one know they were heard and understood.

That’s because there’s power in the language of “thank you.”

[ctt template=”4″ link=”64Z31″ via=”no” ]What might we hear if we listened to ourselves speak? What is our love language? Join the 21-day adventure of Living a Life of Thank you.[/ctt]



Day #9 of Living a Life of Thank You

Q: What do you want to communicate?

Q: What are you really saying?

This is a no-guilt zone; don’t forget that. Grace, grace, grace!

Q: Are there words that you’d like to eliminate from your love language?

Q: Are you surprised at how many sincere and positive words you spoke? Celebrate that.

Related posts

If you want to take this topic deeper, you might love one of these blog posts.

Related Resource

I wrote a book 10 years ago that I still love. It helps break unhealthy patterns we bring into our relationships with our children. It’s still available in Kindle edition.

The Mom I Want to Be: Rising Above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future.

You can also buy a print version (autographed personally) in my LFT Etsy shop.