Gratitude is one the most meaningful things to receive—or to give.
We were recently reflecting on the many ‘thank yous’ we have exchanged with so many great people and groups these past years. For this, we are thankful!
However, what we noticed too, is that people and organizations express gratitude very differently. Gratitude can be spoken in person or in an email. Expressed via a written note or social media posting. Sent in a letter or a much-needed phone call. Whichever: saying “thank you” to others is one of the most impactful daily things a human being can gift or get. And, compared to many things we do in our jobs—expressing gratitude consumes relatively little time or energy—and often costs nothing.
Yet, despite the massive value of gratitude, really meaningful ‘thanks’ are too infrequent, and often not well thought out.
- Gratitude so cursory as to be derisory.
- Gratitude so vague as to be only meaningful in its meaninglessness.
- Gratitude expressed way too late or not at all.
What a massive missed opportunity to make a difference.
Thankfully, this month’s remarkable resource is there to help: Leading with Gratitude by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton.
Reflecting more on gratitude not only helps us understand why ‘good thanks’ are so important, but improves our ability to express thanks more and better. There’s often nothing more powerful you can do when you’re having a bad day than thanking someone else for what they have contributed or who they are. Who will you thank today?
Whether at work or as community or family members, as leaders, supervisors, or students—we can and should all express thanks for many, many reasons. Yet, when we’re focused on the next task, or our own egos, we can often forget one of the main ways in which we can recognize, motivate, and value other people. By thanking them—and thanking them well.
Gratitude is a vital expression part of cultural work—it can express and reinforce what you really value in your work and your workplace. You can thank people for small things, and big things—don’t wait! Give thanks now and give thanks often. In time-pressed workplaces fused with fear, inauthenticity, status, and lack of empathy, thanking people well can make people feel better and perform better. Yourself included.
If you want to thank someone, it’s important always to:
Generic is not generous. If you are going to thank someone, avoid vague notions like: ‘thanks for all you have done working here for 18 years’. Instead: think about some of the specific and personal ways the person has made a difference, and thank them for these. Reflect and feedback what you think to be their 2 or 3 main contributions. Being specific with our thanks helps others feel truly seen and recognized. It shows you really do care and value their contributions.
Try to express the gratitude from your heart, through your own voice. Be thankful for the things that truly deserve merits. Be personal and be yourself—avoiding stating anything that you don’t feel or can stand by. A hint of insincerity or ‘going through the thankful motions’ undermines the whole message and your intent. Even if you say much less, really meaning it makes a massive difference.
Unlike fine wine, gratitude ‘goes off’ with time. Thanking someone well requires you to thank them in a timely way: in minutes or hours not days. The power and potency of gratitude diminishes over time—so thank them as soon as you can.
Learn more by reading the book, or watching the video below from one of the author’s, Chester Elton, about Managing Anxiety at Work by Leading with Gratitude.