By David Anderson, President, Tillicum-Woodbrook Neighborhood Association
A jewelry store conducted the following test-marketing experiment. Dividing their customers into three groups, employees called the members of Group One and thanked them for their recent purchase. The purchasers in the second group were not only thanked by phone but also were informed of an upcoming sale. The third group was not called at all. Guess which group had the highest favorable return rate, and by what percentage? The answer is at the end of this article.
Giving thanks, or thanksgiving, has gigantic, huge, or to coin a word – ‘gi-hugic’ – potential, to not just impact the bottom-line but to change us as people. Whether commercial enterprises, classrooms, communities, or entire cities, practicing the attitude of gratitude pays dividends far beyond mere dollars and cents. Simply saying ‘thank you’ simply makes sense. This is the first in a series of articles in keeping with the Character Quality of the Month Project, an endeavor adopted by the board of the Tillicum Woodbrook Neighborhood Association (TWNA).
Let alone neighborhoods like ours; there are school districts and even entire cities across the nation that have incorporated such themes. Starting this past September, four school districts in Spokane Valley joined forces in the character-education program called Partners Advancing Character Education, or PACE.
The idea for such an emphasis in Tillicum/Woodbrook came about when we saw that CBS news recently celebrated this milestone anniversary of the comic strip “Peanuts” which made its debut in October, 1950. November traditions are hardly complete without watching a rerun of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” the opening scene of which is the classic Lucy deception ‘kick-off’ that good-hearted Charlie Brown literally falls for. . .again.
The TWNA is taking this seasonal opportunity to kick-off the Character Quality of the Month Project beginning with “The Attitude of Gratitude.”
Gratitude is so often taken for granted and yet gratitude “has been said to have one of the strongest links with mental health of any character trait.” According to Cicero, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others”.
One of the creative means by which to get the larger community thinking about this month-long emphasis on ‘having an attitude of gratitude’ is a contest for who can come up with the best acrostic by which to remember the many benefits from something so simple as saying ‘thanks’ or showing appreciation. Sue Rothwell, owner of Gertie’s Grill in Tillicum, has offered a “Big Foot” dinner to the winner.
An acrostic is a fun, even outlandish (all the better) means by which to remember a list of things. For example, a group of college students from PLU once came up with this: “Tacky armadillos carelessly leave their chocolate ice cream sitting.” Now, of course, that makes no sense to anybody but the first letter of each of those words in that sentence turn out to be the characteristics of an issue they wanted to remember that made that topic they were studying unique – something I still remember (see how important ‘outlandish’ is?) many, many years later. (This technique for remembering lists of things will help you get through school too!)
So develop an acrostic of the 15 benefits of ‘the attitude of gratitude.’ You can find them listed on the TWNA webpage at www.MeetTheNeighbors.org. Once you register, and it’s free, click on the “Neighborhood Forums” tab, scroll down to the highlighted “Character Quality of the Month” and read the list there and the rules.
Then be watching this online newspaper – The Suburban Times – for articles on thanksgiving throughout the month of November. Each submission will highlight the benefits of being a thankful person, along with ideas to implement the habit of gratitude into your own personal life – something that will impact all those around you, beginning of course with you but extending to your family, school, community, city and business.
With regards businesses, and the matter of employing the practice of thankfulness on the part of employees, if you answered the opening question with ‘Group One’, you are correct. In fact, customers who were simply thanked showed a subsequent 70% increase in purchases. In comparison, customers who were thanked and told about a sale showed only a 30% increase in purchases, and as expected, customers who were not thanked at all did not respond at all.
There then is proof enough in these economically impoverished times how important it is in molding behavior to simply express thanks. But there is much more and in the next article – the simple expenditure of sixty-nine cents that has wonderful potential to improve your over-all quality of life.