In case you’ve been living under a rock lately, the iPhone 6 was announced last week, and it’s awesome. I stayed up late Thursday night (and into Friday morning) to be one of the first to pre-order the new phone through Apple’s online store. These pre-orders are always crazy and difficult. The servers get slammed by the thousands upon thousands of people clamoring to be the first to get their hands on the precious new hardware, so it takes a while. When I finally got through and was preparing to check out with my new iPhone 6 Plus, I realized a horrifying fact: I couldn’t change my shipping address from my parents’ house to my apartment in Waco. Not wanting to miss out on my opportunity to buy the new phone, I checked out anyway, hoping I would be able to change the shipping address later.
Well, I wasn’t able to change the shipping address online due to some kind of weird new AT&T policy (shocker), so first thing Friday morning, I called Apple Support to see if they could help me. I ended up waiting on hold for an hour. I had time to go to the gym, eat breakfast, and get ready for the day all while listening to Apple’s hold music, which gets really old after a while. But finally after an hour of waiting, I was greeted by the friendliest customer support representative I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. He apologized for the long wait and immediately changed my shipping address, all while being kind and personable. The experience actually made the hour-long wait seem not so bad. As soon as I got off the phone with him, I took to Twitter to post about what a great experience I had had. But then I realized something: Why was I posting my gratitude toward this individual on Twitter, where he would probably never see it, when I could have actually told him what a great job he had done over the phone?
I just got off the phone with the nicest and most helpful Apple customer support agent ever. And he fixed my shipping address!— Devon Michael Dundee (@devondundee) September 12, 2014
This is an example of what I call misguided gratitude. Instead of showing sincere gratitude to the person who deserves it, we proclaim our thanks to the world. But for what purpose? Sometimes the person may receive the gratitude that way. For example, if you know the person and tag them in your post. But usually, the person we should be thanking is someone we don’t know, and they never get the pleasure of knowing that their kindness and courtesy was appreciated.
I think that ultimately, misguided gratitude is more about ourselves than about the person we claim to be thanking. We want to seem grateful, but only in a way that benefits us. This isn’t the way we should be. Gratitude isn’t about building ourselves up. It’s about encouraging and affirming someone who we feel deserves some sort of recognition.
And gratitude doesn’t have to be a public act, either. Usually, it’s the smaller, private acts of gratitude that mean the most. If I had taken a few seconds to tell that Apple employee, “You did a really great job. Thank you so much for your help. You’re very good at what you do,” it might have made an impact on his day. It may have even given him that little extra encouragement to keep up his positive attitude, knowing that it was doing some good. But instead, I chose the route of misplaced gratitude and missed out on a great opportunity to build someone up.
Let’s take the time to show gratitude to one another, and let’s make sure we’re doing it in the right way. A thank you card. A short text saying how much you appreciate someone. Or even saying the two simple words, “Thank you,” to someone who does a small kind act for you as you’re going about your day. Showing gratitude isn’t difficult, but it’s something we all struggle with. Hopefully we’ll all learn from my mistake and direct our gratitude in the right direction in the future.