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Demonstrating Kindness, Sincerity, and Appreciation

How we give and receive support and advice can reflect our humility.

Key points

  • Verbal feedback from others can challenge our view of ourselves and may not be well accepted.
  • Genuine gratitude for another’s assistance can lift the spirits of both the giver and receiver.
  • All impressions, of ourselves and others, are viewed subjectively. Recognizing this can help one graciously give and receive feedback.

An expression some people tend to say when another person thanks them for something is “no worries.” Although this statement of gratitude may be expressed when there is reason to worry, often it is in response to a “thank you.” In such situations, the implication may be that the recipient of one's appreciation does not recognize the extent of the other person’s gratitude. Since an early age, we have been taught the importance of saying “thank you” when another has helped or given us a compliment. The purpose is not only to acknowledge that someone has done or said something positive to us but also to reinforce their inclination to continue to do so.

The importance of gratitude cannot be underestimated—both in how we give and receive it. Yet, many of us may not spend much time thinking about this and how it impacts our lives. Some people, however, may spend quite a bit of time weighing how much they give and get and find themselves on the short end of the stick. Feeling used or unappreciated in a relationship may have a significant effect on one’s desire to give anymore. There are those, however, who will continue to give because of their generosity or beliefs about how they should act.

Many people are comfortable in giving and accepting expressions and behaviors reflective of gratitude and assistance. For most of us, giving tends to be easier than receiving. People often give advice to others with the intention to help or allay the recipient’s concerns. The giving may be done with good intentions and be delivered with genuine kindness; yet, the recipient may not react as positively as the giver expected. The assumption that the receiver will respond positively is not always the case. We generally expect this when people are given critical feedback, but, interestingly, people can also experience mixed emotions when given kind and supportive comments. A number of researchers including Exline (2012) found that the recipients of such remarks may experience feelings of shame, guilt, or weakness. In addition, to be told that one has positive attributes may stimulate beliefs that the speaker has an ulterior motive or thinks the recipient is weak and needs to be bolstered. This is when humility can play a major role in promoting positive receptivity.

Graciousness in Giving to and Receiving From Others

To realize and genuinely accept that another person is helping us (either through deed or words), we must acknowledge that we are in need of their help. Doing so challenges narcissism and highlights that we are not superhuman or entirely self-sufficient. This personal assessment is realistic and one of the determinants for human interactions and relationships. It is a reflection of humility and how we need others. The relationship between humility and gratitude can best be illustrated by how we respond to assistance and gifts.

Gracious receiving is not always easy to do, even for those who are not narcissistic. The messenger or “giver” may not deliver the information in a sensitive way or act with finesse or skill. The information can be rough and critical. Nevertheless, we should respond positively. Graciousness reflects kindness and sincerity, and how we should react. It is communicating a genuine appreciation for those who want to help us, even if delivered nondiplomatically or if we think we don’t need it. Doing so encourages trust and respect. A positive reaction stimulates further loyalty and commitment for both parties (Parse, 2021).

Those who are almost always in the position of giving may be unfamiliar with having the experience of being a recipient. Moreover, their pride and belief that they are strong and capable may interfere with them accepting that they, too, can benefit from the assistance of others (Exline, 2012). Thus, such individuals may have difficulty responding graciously.

What to Do When We Do Not Believe the “Giving” Was Necessary

Although the ways in which others help us are not always free from eliciting unpleasant reactions, it is a reflection of how someone sees us. Does it have validity? Could there be a motive that does not have an intended positive purpose for us—the recipient? The giver’s behavior or statements may or may not comport with how we view ourselves, our situation, or our interpretation for our actions. In addition, it may be a view or an opinion that others do not share (or at least told to us by others). Nevertheless, we should recognize that this is someone’s perception. We may try to correct a misperception and present our viewpoint, which may or may not succeed; but the one action we can certainly take is to be a gracious recipient. Some might argue that such behavior encourages a lack of standing up for oneself. This is not always so. Gracious receptivity does not necessarily mean passivity and submission.

Reflecting on the Importance of Gratitude of Others Known and Unknown to Us

In any relationship, there is always a “give and take.” The parties are both the recipients and providers of something. Moreover, these relationships can be with people we’ve known for a long time or those we've just met. Although most meaningful interactions are with those whom we’ve had a long-standing relationship, the kindness of strangers can have a profound impact on our life. It can reaffirm the “goodness of people” and our reliance on others. How often do we think about these issues and how we give and respond to kindness and assistance to and from people we barely know? It is important to remember that every kind word and deed, large or small, can enrich our lives and those of others. Offering and accepting a sincere “thank you” is gracious living, and nothing to worry about.


Exline, J. J. (2012). Humility and the ability to receive from others. Journal of Psychology and Christianity. 31(1), 40-50.

Parse, R. R. (2021). The humanbecoming paradigm: An everchanging horizon. Discovery International Publications.

Simpson, K. R. (2013). Being a gracious recipient. American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing. 38(1), 64. DOI:10.1097/NMC.0b013e318271811f

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