How to deal with gratitude shaming

Author: Manasa Sai Sekar

Gratitude shaming refers to a phenomenon where individuals are made to feel guilty or ashamed for not expressing gratitude or appreciation for something they have received. In India, women are often expected to be more humble and grateful and to express gratitude for even small favours or gestures. Failure to do so may be perceived as disrespectful or ungrateful. Additionally, there may be cultural expectations for women to prioritize their relationships and emotional labour, which can translate into being expected to express gratitude more frequently.

Moreover, gender-based stereotypes and biases can come into play, with women being expected to be more agreeable and grateful than men. This can result in women being subjected to gratitude shaming when they do not meet these expectations.

If you are an Indian woman experiencing gratitude shaming at the workplace, here are some strategies that may help:

Recognize that expressing gratitude is a personal choice: It is important to remember that expressing gratitude is a personal choice and not something that should be expected of you. While expressing appreciation for something you have received is a positive thing, it should not be done under duress or to appease others.

Set boundaries: If you feel that you are being pressured or shamed into expressing gratitude, it is important to set boundaries. Politely but firmly communicate your discomfort and let others know you would prefer to express gratitude on your terms.

Speak up: If you are being subjected to gratitude shaming or other forms of discrimination, speak up and report it to a supervisor or HR representative. It is important to hold others accountable for their behaviour and create a safe and respectful workplace environment.

Practice self-compassion: If you are experiencing gratitude shaming, it can be easy to internalize feelings of guilt or shame. Practising self-compassion can help you cultivate a sense of kindness and understanding towards yourself, and help you recognize that it is okay to express gratitude in your way and on your terms.

Surround yourself with supportive people: Surrounding yourself with supportive colleagues, mentors, and friends can help you feel more empowered and validated in your experiences. Seek out individuals who share your values and can provide a positive and uplifting work environment.

Remember, expressing gratitude is a personal choice and should never be used as a means of control or manipulation. By setting boundaries, speaking up, and practising self-compassion, you can navigate gratitude shaming in a way that is authentic and respectful to yourself.