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Communicating Gratitude

We have discussed previously about the importance and purpose of communication in relationships. The importance of learning about others is to better anticipate how certain events will trigger various responses. Once we have learned the emotional responses to various triggers, we will be able to act to generate a positive response or act to help avoid a negative response. Today, we will focus on generating positive responses. One way to do this is to express gratitude; genuine and authentic gratitude because it will have a positive effect on both the speaker and the listener.

Increasing our level of gratitude increases our positive emotional state, lowers anxiety, and decreases depression by actually changing the chemicals in the brain. The key factor is being mindful and intentional about those things that others say or do to us for which we are genuinely thankful. The next step is to internalize that gratitude by focusing on the specific details of what brought us joy and a state of being thankful. Sit with that thought for a moment and really reflect on the other person’s possible motives; reflect on the specific actions and potentially what they were trying to accomplish.

Once we have a true understanding of what happened and a true understanding of how that generated a feeling of gratitude, it’s time to communicate that to the person to whom we are grateful. By communicating your gratitude to someone, you are building them up and giving them a positive emotional event for which they may feel some level of thankfulness. Additionally, by verbalizing your gratitude, you will experience your own positive emotional response from their gratitude toward you. Finally, you will increase your own level of gratitude overall as a result of communicating it.

Some people make a habit of expressing their gratitude to others because of the positive results all around. The more you express to others, the more you will like bringing a certain level of joy to them to where you want to keep doing it. This will also generate positive emotions in you. You can see how this communication is a cycle that not only is repeatable but generates a circular upward spiral of positive emotions for both the speaker and the listener.

Communication is vital to relationships. Gottman research shows that when the ratio of positive to negative communication is greater than five to one, the relationship thrives. Both will feel a sense of well-being and support from each other as well as and understanding of how much they matter to their partner. Open, honest, genuine, and positive communication is a great step toward a healthy and happy relationship.


Charles Bower, LPC Associate

My passion is relationship of all kinds. I have been working with people dealing with relationship issues, both professionally and personally, for several years and still see the potential in every relationship to not only survive, but to thrive. I also have experience with biblical and Christian counseling, which is also a passion of mine. However, I do not impose my beliefs on any client and have successfully navigated working with clients of varying world views and spiritual beliefs.


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