Dear tribe members:
If you celebrate the Great American Holiday of Thanksgiving, you will soon gather round a meal and give thanks for your blessings. Enjoy that moment. Know also that I appreciate you; Thanks for being part of this conversation.
AND that’s not what this quick note is about. This is about the workplace, and what you need to do before year-end.
THE MAGIC OF GRATITUDE AT WORK
Here’s a simple reminder that science has now proven what we have sensed all along: People work harder, offer more and better ideas, and stick around longer in work environments where they feel appreciated and believe they are making a difference.
Yet the vast majority of the workforce NEVER FEEL THAT WAY. Oh, it’s not because no one appreciates you and your output (forgive the double negative) – it’s because no one takes the time to Say It.
Out loud. As in, conversation.
YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHOOSE
By the way, let’s get victim mindset out of the way before we dive into this topic. You say your clueless boss never says Thanks? Well boohoo, poor you. First, if your boss is so clueless, why do even care what s/he thinks about you? Second, when was the last time you said Thanks to your boss for something?
You may not be able to change your boss’ personality, but nothing is stopping YOU from building a bubble of gratefulness around you. Try it – you’ll find it’s contagious, plus it’s entirely in your control.
Like forgiveness, gratitude (or ingratitude) is about YOU, not them.
CREATE AN ATMOSPHERE OF GRATITUDE
Here are five things you can do to build a more Thanks-filled workplace:
- Annual Re-Recruitment. If you manage others, I hope you let them know regularly what you value about them and their contribution to the team and company. Between now and mid-January is a great time to chat with your team members and say, “I’m glad you’re here. I hope you’ll still be with us next year.” Then ask them three questions (and pay attention to the answers):
What keeps you here? Where would you like to grow or develop? What could I do to better support you in the next year?
- When You See It, Say It. The best way to offer appreciative feedback is immediately (same is true of critical feedback, by the way). If you want to reinforce what someone did or said, tell them specifically what you saw, e.g. “Thank you! I appreciate that you did X!” Do this with coworkers, partners, and kids. They all respond to positive feedback!
- Count to Five (to One). From Neuroscience we’ve learned that positive feedback releases Dopamine in the brain (a pleasure rush!) while negative stimulates Adrenalin (the fight or flight chemical). The negative affect lasts five times as long as the positive, so it basically takes five positive remarks to offset every one negative. Pay attention to the balance of each in the conversations you have with others.
- Say You’re Welcome. Are you someone who brushes aside compliments by saying things like, “oh, it wasn’t me, it was the team” or “It was nothing, really.”? Modesty and humility have merit, but if every time someone gave you a wrapped gift you immediately pushed it back or stuck it in a drawer, eventually they’d stop trying. So when someone takes the time to offer you thanks, please accept it graciously, saying, “You’re welcome,” or “It was my pleasure.”
- Make It About You. The real power of gratitude comes from you connecting to another human being. Using “I” statements allows you to upgrade your expression of Gratitude. Notice the difference between a polite “Thanks” or “that was nice” versus “I really admire that you….” or “I am so grateful to you for…”
Finally, the more often you exercise your Gratitude muscle, the more you will notice the good things that happen in your world, supporting an upward spiral in your world view. Bonus: if you’re in a leadership role you pull others along with you!
Remember, Leadership is not about a title; anyone can be a leader who offers feedback to others in a way that helps them feel valued and appreciated for who they are and what they do.