Thanksgiving, Social Business, Community


This week is the time of the year when we in the US take a break from our busy lives to express Gratitude.

Gratitude is a positive emotion we feel in acknowledgment of a benefit we have received. Saying “Thank You” is the way to express that emotion which, I believe, is the basis of life in community. It recognizes that we depend on one another to live, to be ourselves.

We get used to say “Thank You” as a matter of social protocol. This is the time to bring its meaning back to consciousness.

I grew up in Brazil and my native language is Portuguese. We say “Obrigado“, which is not my favorite expression because it equals gratitude with indebtedness. Literally, it says “I owe you something”.

In my travels around the world I have always taken interest not only on the local word to express gratitude, but also on its literal meaning and the social attitude behind it.

My favorite form of “Thank You” is the one used in Malaysia. “Terima Kasih” sounds very friendly and it literally translates to “Receive Love”.

I am no historian or linguist, but I theorize that words equating gratitude and indebtedness have roots in a period in history where gratitude was used as social currency between levels of hierarchy, where favors were exchanged for political loyalty. Words that equals gratitude with love reflect a more equal exchange between peers.

Just to tie it back to Social Business, my main writing topic, I think we are shifting from a business environment where stronger relationships are more people-to-people and less customer-to-company or people-to-expert. In Social Business, gratitude has to be more like love and less like indebtedness.

Here is a list to say Thank You in other languages.

Namastê (from Sanskrit), used in Nepal and India, is a salutation that roughly translates to “I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me” (“Thank You” is “Dhan-ya-vaad”). It feels to me like how the ideal Thank You should be like.

With that in mind, I would like to say Thank You for reading, agreeing or disagreeing, providing feedback and teaching me through interaction in 2011.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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