This was my favorite part of the book Reinforcements by Heidi Grant:
“The most powerful reinforcer to helping others is, “The opportunity to see one’s own effectiveness…people want to see or know the impact of the help they have given or will give….This is actually not an ego thing. It’s what some psychologists have argued is the fundamental human motivation: to feel effective. To know that your actions create the results you intended. “When we have no idea of what the consequences of our actions have been- motivation takes a nosedive.”
I’m sure neither of my daughters will appreciate I am sharing this story- however it’s a good one! Please don’t tell them – It really is a fabulous example of knowing the consequences of your actions on many levels! One of my uncles recently called and said: “I’m sending you a check- use it as you see fit. It’s unconditional- I’m retired and am thrilled I can help you.” I have 2 children currently enrolled in college; one full time and one part time. I shared the gift between them and let them know it was explicitly for school tuition. They both wrote thank you notes. One of my children wrote a very detailed letter- drafted first and then handwritten after. Lots of thought went into what she wanted to write. Her letter explained exactly what classes the money will enable her to take. She also gave an update on her personal life and how school is positively impacting her future. It was a beautiful, kind, and thoughtful letter.
The very next week this same uncle sent another check to my daughter for her to use towards another class. He enclosed a note of HIS gratitude to her for the beautiful letter and really was thrilled about the education piece. He values education and even put himself through medical school in the ‘50s at Harvard.
The other daughter took months to write a thank you note. I’m sure it was polite and to the point. Crickets. I believe that my uncle really understood how his help was making a difference as his motivator to immediately contribute more!
The next time you are sharing your gratitude, I challenge you to let them know exactly how they have affected your life. These kinds of interactions will help our connections with each other and our communities.