Why Are People Stingy?

Posted by Kristin Arnold on March 12, 2013

All it takes is a friendly smile, a genuine thank you, or a kind compliment to make someone’s day.  A kind word not only brightens their day, but makes your day even better.

So why are people so darn stingy with a small gesture of appreciation?   I have been pondering this question for the last week or so – and none of the explanations hold up under scrutiny:

  1. Too Busy.  Your day is filled with tasks.  Yes, things need to get done; yet at the end of the day, it’s the people you interact with that makes the lasting impression.  Balance tasks with the relationships you have in your life.  As the clerk hands you the receipt, take a moment to smile and say “thank you” before you run out the door.
  2. No Time.  We all have the same 24 hours in a day.  When you say, “I don’t have time,” what you really mean is that something else has a higher priority.  You just haven’t made it a priority.  A smile doesn’t take any more time than a scowl.
  3. Don’t Remember.  Some of us were not trained in our early years to say “please” and “thank you,” so compliments might not come naturally.  I received some sage advice many, many years ago when I attended my first time management seminar (I then went on to cut my teeth in the training world teaching Franklin Quest’s Time Management Seminar).  The instructor recommended that we put 10 pennies in one pants pocket at the beginning of the day.  Throughout the day, as you saw someone doing something “right”, you would compliment them and then shift one penny from one pocket into the other pocket.  The goal for the end of the day was to move all ten pennies from one pocket to another.  Do this for a month or so, and you will naturally find things to compliment.  (P.S. pennies are awfully heavy and clanky, so I used navy beans for the same effect!)
  4. It’s Their Job.  Even though it may be their job, everyone likes to be appreciated.  Especially in these tough economic times, people may be in jobs that are not particularly satisfying.  Make their day a bit brighter.
  5. You’re Stingy.  Ebenezer Scrooge was stingy with money and you might be just as stingy with appreciation.  You don’t loose anything when you appreciate other people.  It’s not like a good word is a diminishing asset that must be held tightly.  There are more than enough good words out there to share with others.

I’m sure I’m missing some other lame excuses.  Which ones do you use?  How about making it a point for the next few days to catch people doing something right.  Genuinely smile at them.  Thank them for doing a great job.  Compliment them on the way they are helping you.

I promise you’ll feel better about them and yourself as they smile back at you!

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