The ability to communicate gratitude is an important thing in any relationship – professional or personal; it balances the line between both respect and motivation, no matter what realm. Think of when a famous athlete leaves one city to join a new team; sometimes they show their thankfulness on the road away with something like a full page ad in their old home paper, and, while a small gesture, it shows that the time spent was valuable.
Online communication relies a lot on the notion of gratitude, as well, and it’s one place where health definitely aligns with the other arenas of the digital discussion. It’s a small element of humanism that extends across every channel, from forums, to Twitter, to engagement – a thank you can go a long way in creating a relationship or adding value to a discussion.
Here are five ways the online community says “Thank You” – and why it matters in health.
Health Benefits of Gratitude
As a WSJ piece from last fall pointed out, studies have shown there is actually a healthy reason to give thanks to those around us. These studies demonstrate the improved psychological condition of those who feel gratitude, which has all sorts of other good benefits, including increased energy, optimism and social connections – all which lead to a better sense of wellness and health.
The Support-Gratitude Cycle
If you’ve ever monitored a patient community or researched a conversation among people coping with smoking cessation, you’ll note a pretty consistent trend of shared experience. What’s really interesting in these groups is that, often, someone will thank the original poster for sharing their story, and then immediately offer support to the person who then thanks them right back. It’s kind of awesome.
Thanks for the RT!
This one definitely isn’t specific to health, but certainly worth keeping in mind when using Twitter. The more time you spend on the network, the more you will see users “Retweet” (RT) messages from other Tweeters. That’s common. Stop to think, though: there’s also way more than an outside chance that you’ve also seen the phrase “Thanks for the RT” shared more than once. In a community that has developed more than its fair share of communication ideas that get embraced widely – such as hashtags – the development of RTs and the public display of returning thanks is certainly one of the most interesting.
Assessing Outreach Success
Every now and then, you’ll read a post from a well-known blogger in which they flame a PR person for an off-topic pitch, sometimes even going so far as to post the note to their site with information about the person conducting outreach in the first place. As more and more people get used to the non-traditional method to engage bloggers – personal and mutually beneficial – a nod of encouragement that you’re doing it right is great as opposed to the alternative. As health communicators engage more in the online space, we can hope for the latter. It’s always great to hear back from a blogger, but it’s especially great if it is something along the lines of, “This is exactly the type of information in which I’m interested sharing with my readers; thanks for thinking that through before sending this information my way.”
Health is digital. Period. The reason, though, is not anything revolutionary: health is digital because digital makes conversations easier since our social networks are easier to access. People didn’t start talking about health and having questions about what their physicians tell them because search engines and Facebook came around. Networks are still based on relationships and they work in the ways most connections work – the more personal, the more impactful. That’s why gratitude matters, and in health, perhaps even more. Health is fundamentally private, and it will take the comfort of something personal to ensure that the conversation can happen. Online and off, don’t forget to say “Thank You”; it keeps the conversation going.
Image credit: TheTruthAbout
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