New poll uncovers the nation’s evolving attitudes around the art of saying thank you, with tips on how to express gratitude from etiquette expert, William Hanson 

  • 77% feel other people don’t say thank you enough and 58% think the act is dying out
  • A quarter of the time Brits say thank you, they don’t actually mean it
  • Nearly three quarters of Brits (73%) feel people in the country are becoming increasingly impolite and less courteous
  • News coincides with national ‘Thank You Day’ this Sunday (4 July), which is backed by Virgin Media O2 and aims to create a closer, kinder and more connected society 

London, UK: The nation says ‘thank you’ half a billion times a year but a quarter of those thank yous are uttered out of politeness and without much thought, according to new research released today.

More than three quarters (77%) of Brits feel that others don’t say thank you to them enough for their acts of kindness, while 30% admit they should personally show more gratitude to others. In fact, 58% would go as far as saying the art of saying thank you is ‘dying out’.

Despite this, the majority of Brits think that saying thank you is good for mental health and wellbeing, with 90% agreeing that it gives them a boost.

The research has been carried out by Virgin Media O2 to coincide with the nation’s first ever Thank You Day which is being held this Sunday 4 July. Thank You Day aims to inspire the nation to say thank you to friends, family and those who have supported others during the past year, building on the community spirit that so many experienced during lockdown.

The poll also reveals Brits are more connected to their community than ever before as almost half (45%) say that they have felt a closer bond to their neighbours since the pandemic began. Two in five (41%) have made new connections in their community during lockdown as friendships and support groups flourished, with 18-24 year-olds most likely (63%) to have fostered new relationships in their local area.

More than half of those surveyed want to maintain the strong community spirit they rediscovered during the pandemic, keeping the connections and friendships that go alongside it.

Virgin Media O2, a proud supporter of ‘Thank You Day’, created the ‘Together Fund’ which has provided £1,000 grants for environmental and community projects which champion and celebrate belonging and togetherness. Four hundred charities have benefited from the fund, and many will hold thank you events and activities across the UK to recognise the volunteers and staff who have provided essential support to communities throughout the pandemic.

Virgin Media O2’s Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Tracey Herald, said:

“It has been a tough time for many of us, and the simple act of saying thank you to someone, whether you say it face-to-face, via a video call or voice note, can make someone feel valued and special.

“Virgin Media O2 is proud to supercharge Thank You Day with our Together Fund which is supporting 400 charities across the UK to hold events this Sunday, giving thanks and recognition to those who’ve stepped up and supported others over the past year.”

The research also revealed that:

  • Over half (55%) of Brits feel they have a tendency to be too polite
  • On average, Brits say thank you seven times a day – that’s 207 times a month
  • Brits are most inclined to say thank you when they have received a gift (74%), followed by a kind deed (72%)

Etiquette expert William Hanson, said:

“For the great British public, the art of politeness and gratitude is incredibly important, if not central, to our sense of self and way of life. While some may feel the art of saying thank you is dying out, the research from Virgin Media O2 is joyful in that it reveals how important we find appreciating each other – and how the pandemic has strengthened community spirit and togetherness.

“This Thank You Day, take the time to thank three people in your life to show them how much they mean to you.”


William Hanson’s top tips for showing gratitude:

Effort and gratitude go hand in hand.  Want to thank someone for a delicious dinner or a lovingly prepared lunch?  It’s about what you say and not how you say it. Gratitude is wonderful in all its forms – take the time to craft the message and really think about what you want to say.

Emotion may not come naturally to us Brits – although we’re getting better, thank heavens. If you’re ever unsure of the exact wording of your thanks, my advice is not to overthink it. Just write or say what comes naturally. Draft it first, if needs be. Something sincere, from the heart, will shine more than an overly moderated message.

When you aren’t able to write to say thank you, pick up the telephone or dial them on video chat (or do both and send something written the next day!). We have so many ways to connect with people today, so there’s really no excuse not to. You can use the fantastic technology that’s available at our fingertips to show them that you’re wearing the new jumper they got you, or how beautiful the flowers they sent you look in a vase.

Feel free to use various ways to express your gratitude: a quick phone call on the day you get the present, followed by a letter a few days later. Remember – you can never say thank you enough.



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