Just in time for Thanksgiving – this is a wonderful article from Forbes that was published last year about the power of gratitude. It is a powerful tool in business, job search, and personal relationships .. sometimes the simple gesture of saying “Thank You” and meaning it, is the single best business or career tool that you have.
Your Most Powerful Forgotten Weapon: Gratitude
We just celebrated a holiday that’s all about giving thanks for what we have (including turkey and football). But if we think about gratitude only once a year, we overlook the immense power of practicing it daily, especially in a business context.
A recent study by Bersin & Associates underscores the bottom-line implications of saying thank you in the workplace. It reveals that companies that “excel at employee recognition” are 12 times more likely to enjoy strong business results. If you aren’t already a believer in the thank you economy, just think about what it can mean to your business if you embrace the power of gratitude.
My own academic research on trust has revealed not only that gratitude makes a difference but that people don’t require big gestures, just heartfelt ones. Simple but genuine thank-yous or small, handwritten notes of appreciation can mean the world to people. So if it’s so easy, why don’t we do it more often?
You Can’t Be a Great Leader Without Trust. Here’s How You Build It Forbes Leadership Forum Forbes Leadership Forum Contributor Oops… Assumptions Can Make an Ass of You and Me! John Baldoni John Baldoni Contributor When it comes to business, I think we fall into the trap of not seeing people when we work with them. We take them for granted and just assume they don’t need a show of gratitude. This oversight can have huge consequences, particularly if you’re the boss.
For instance, my friend Tony completed a project that saved his company tens of thousands of dollars a month. It also cut a process that used to take almost two days down to three hours. Considering the bottom-line significance of Tony’s project, you can imagine his confusion when nothing was said after its successful implementation. At the first staff meeting afterward, his manager quietly slid him a box that held a standard item the company gave to recognize a job well done. But no one said anything, then or later.
Tony told me that as little as a handshake, a word of appreciation in private, or a pair of movie tickets would have meant more. But the silence hurt. He responded by leaving the company and starting his own successful business. I doubt that many organizations can afford to lose their Tonys simply because they’ve fostered a culture of silence instead of gratitude.
On a personal level, what are the qualities that attract you to another person? When I ask this question during speaking sessions, I often hear words like charisma, kindness, or physical appearance. The audience is usually surprised when I tell them that the most magnetic trait is not charisma or even a smile but gratitude. In fact, if you think about it, chances are good that the people you like and respect the most—both personally and professionally—have no problem showing their appreciation.
In business we’re drawn to people who acknowledge our contributions. When those people hold leadership positions, you can see the trickle-down effect on the company as a whole—all the way down to customers. When managers and employees know that company leaders value gratitude, those who serve customers on the front line show appreciation more readily. And we know that the customer who feels appreciated won’t hesitate to return.
Knowing that gratitude comes with so many benefits, why do we still struggle to express it? I think we often assume that we do more than we do, or we tell ourselves that it’s not worth the effort. If that’s where you’re coming from, then I have three suggestions to help get you out of your gratitude rut.
1. Take a few minutes each morning to make a list of three to five things you appreciate. This requires only a moment and it helps you cultivate a habit of gratitude. When we’re caught up in our day-to-day routine, we easily overlook the people and things we appreciate. A daily reminder can give us a much needed happiness boost while also putting us in the gratitude mindset.
2. If you deal with employees, find ways to personalize your appreciation. The method of appreciation or the person who extends the gratitude can make a big difference. For example, some people value acknowledgement before a group, while others prefer a one-on-one thank you. This extra effort demonstrates that showing gratitude isn’t just a routine for you. It makes a difference when people see that you care about what matters to them.
3. Leave yourself open to feedback. Part of expressing gratitude means also hearing what the other person has to say. One of the reasons we get frustrated with gratitude is because when we do show appreciation we don’t always get the response we expected. An underwhelmed response to your display of gratitude can have several causes. The primary one might surprise you: lip service. If you show gratitude to someone who feels it’s not genuine, the gesture will fall flat. If I as a manager thank an employee for doing a great job but ignore his feedback about ongoing issues, it rings a little hollow.
When we make the effort to adopt gratitude year-round, the results can prove astonishing. Few things stick in our minds like those moments when we learn that people appreciate our efforts or we acknowledge how others have helped us. I promise that when you make the effort to make gratitude a central part of how you think and act, you won’t be disappointed with the results.