We hear a lot of talk about gratitude these days — but is it enough?
Gratitude is a powerful force in our lives. Research published in the Harvard Mental Health Letter, indicates that showing appreciation:
- Improves personal and business relationships
- Reduces doctor’s visits
- Increases physical activity
- Generates positive feelings and
- Increases productivity
But being grateful is just the beginning. To complete the transaction in a meaningful way, we need to express that feeling by showing it.
Showing gratitude in business
If you’re in business, showing appreciation can be done in many ways. It can be time off, a raise, a promotion, an award, a gift certificate or lunch with the boss.
But there are ways to express appreciation that cost nothing and mean everything to the recipient.
It starts with “Thank you.” And while that’s always nice to hear, it’s just the beginning. Part 2 is naming a specific action, and the grand finale is a description of the impact of that action.
This works equally as well at home as in the office. Here are some examples.
- “Thank you for staying late tonight. I know you had to scramble to cover other responsibilities, but wrapping up that project right away means we’ve got a good shot at getting the contract.”
- “I appreciate the way you did the dishes on your own. It was a brutal day for me and when you helped out, it made me less inclined to jump off a tall bridge.” OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but surely as a busy parent you’ve had days like these!
- “Thank you for being such a sympathetic listener. It’s so good to know that I can talk to you about what’s bugging me at work and you won’t try to tell me what to do.”
If you’re not in to that whole touchy-feely thing, you’re probably wondering: Why go to all that bother? Think of it as enlightened self-interest; praise and encouragement almost always leads to more of the same behavior.
Not only that, but it’s clear and effective communication. People cannot read our minds; they don’t know — unless and until we tell them — that we appreciate their actions. This reduces stress and minimizes manipulation.
Internal and external customers
While you’re showing your appreciation for your employees, friends and family — your “internal customers” — don’t forget about your “external customers,” including your suppliers, your clients and your prospects.
Hand-written notes are lovely…and time-consuming. Such correspondence, in this age of instant gratification, can have a greater impact than something dashed off in a quick email. But done properly, even electronic “thank yous” are meaningful.
And they are certainly better than nothing at all.
Some additional tips from Fast Company:
- End your business thank-you note with “what comes next.” It might be “I’ll call you next week” or “Coffee is on me!”
- Know your recipient. Is he formal or more of a “casual Friday” kind of guy? Your answer will determine your greeting, the overall tone of your note and even if it should be mailed rather than sent electronically.
- Be cautious. If it’s an email, make sure you’re not sending copies to people who shouldn’t get it. If you’re using someone’s name, absolutely be sure it’s correct. John Smith could be Jon Smythe; take nothing for granted. And don’t forget to check the spelling in the body of your message, too.
- Be real. This is excellent advice regardless of who you’re thanking: Be honest; be yourself; be conversational.
You’ll be grateful you did.
How do you show your gratitude and appreciation for others?