Most quarterly report announcements give you at least a mild case of heartburn. This year, the preparations were particularly grueling. Surprisingly, your two newest team members stepped it up beyond your wildest expectations, accumulating all the right data and ensuring your presentation was spot-on.
To say you felt a sense of relief would be a tremendous understatement. What you really experienced was a wash of true gratitude. Being vocal about your gratitude is a sign of maturity and security. It's also a fantastic springboard for a series of personal, group, and brand benefits.
Living gratefully elicits feelings of satisfaction and happiness. There's a reason doing something as simple as thanking a coworker with an unexpected latte gives you a boost, too. In his book "The Upward Spiral," neuroscientist Alex Korb explains that gratitude encourages your brain to fire up the dopamine system and depress symptoms of fear and anxiety.
Of course, you're hardly the only winner when you pass along a little gratitude instead of attitude. Everyone who gets caught in the wake of your thanks is likely to get energized. That's because employees who feel valued perform their jobs better, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association.
And gratefulness has ramifications far beyond your workplace walls. As employees discuss their terrific corporate experiences with others, their voices can help make your company the place to be or buy from. All that, just because you showed your appreciation to someone.
Get Your Gratitude Groove On
If you'd like to up your gratitude game, incorporate the following habits into your routine.
1. Hand out thoughtful, specific praise.
It can be tempting to start incorporating a verbal "thank you" and high fives into your every conversation as a way of fast-tracking into gratitude. Real gratitude, however, involves pointing out a precise action in a genuine way. Think of it as the difference between walking into an open office and just shouting, "Nice job, all!" every afternoon or bringing in goodies after your department pulled off a huge sales coup. Obviously, the latter involved more time, deliberation, and energy. And the latter is going to mean more to your team.
How do you make expressing genuine gratitude a habit? At the end of each day, write down at least one thing or person you're grateful for that day and re-read that note the next morning before starting your workday. By keeping that list top of mind, you'll more easily recognize opportunities for sharing your gratitude. Also, give your words careful consideration. Saying something was "really great" and walking away may leave your audience more confused than inspired. Instead, focus on something definitive: "Our client loved the landing page you created so much they called to tell me. They are notoriously tough to please and rarely say anything favorable. I appreciate that you made our department stand out with this tough customer."
2. Give your team a platform (or two) for gratitude.
Your entire team should get in the habit of sharing their gratitude regularly. To help your team create this habit, provide platforms for expressing gratitude. You might keep cards on hand for employees to write thank-you notes to colleagues who made their day or helped on a project. Some businesses post "gratitudes" on bulletin boards, give virtual high fives on 15Five, or have an intranet forum where workers can talk up their colleagues.
Again, this can all start with you, so think about ways to make expressing gratitude obvious and fun. Persistence is key to this process. "As cliché as it sounds, running a company is a lot like coaching a sports team," explains Carrie Beckner, principal at Pariveda Solutions. "What occurs on the field comes from months of training -- not a sudden burst of acumen." Begin today by creating platforms that help coworkers put their gratitude into practice.
3. Turn to gratitude when the chips are down.
Develop a habit of taking time to give thanks during trying times. You're probably not thinking much about the rosy side of life during a business crisis, but you should -- particularly for your team's well-being. Crises create stressors, and those stressors need to be defused. Only then can your team remain levelheaded enough to overcome the challenges in front of them.
Is this easy? No. Nevertheless, the more you're able to turn those proverbial rotten lemons into lemonade, the better it will be for you and your people from a psychological standpoint. "Consciously cultivating an attitude of gratitude builds up a sort of psychological immune system that can cushion us when we fall," explains psychologist Robert Emmons. "There is scientific evidence that grateful people are more resilient to stress, whether minor everyday hassles or major personal upheavals."
Make no mistake: Expressing gratitude isn't the same as turning into a rah-rah cheerleader who never has a rough day. In fact, those who practice gratitude take the bad with the good. They just know how to ferret out the golden nuggets that so often lie underneath lumps of coal.