These two simple words – thank you – will transform your relationships and more importantly your career.
We live in a time where society is in deep need of more kindness. Gratitude is the solution that is making a come back. The workplace is arguably an area where being compassionate and expressing thankfulness can go a long way in creating the change we wish to see in our world. Most of us spend more time at work then we do at home. It’s just a fact. We all get 24 hours in a day; approximately 50 percent of that time is spent working. Gratitude can enhance the quality of our lives and combat the negative energy that tries to deteriorate it.
How we choose to spend our day and who we spend it with has a direct impact on our mindset, mood and how present we can be with family and friends after we “clock out” from work. Studies show that grateful people produce more serotonin in the brain leading to happier, healthier and more productive lives.
To start making gratitude a habit we need to modify or change our routines. It starts from the moment we wake up. In an interview with CNN’s Van Jones on “The Van Jones Show” Oprah Winfrey gave some sage advice on this very topic by sharing what she does in the morning:
“First thing I say is thank you. I can feel the gratitude, like, I’m still here. I’m in a body. Thank you so much…Then I go through letting the dogs out, the whole, you know, brushing your teeth and all that stuff. And then, I have either silence or prayer or something that acknowledges that I’m still here. I do not reach for that phone first.”
It is easy to get bogged down and overwhelmed by what we see in our texts, inboxes and newsfeeds. The chaos of living in a 24/7 culture makes it even more important to commit to a positive routine. If we go into work feeling refreshed versus frazzled, we are more likely to be pleasant with the people we need to interact with. Another tip is to set an intention for the day and schedule time to review email and the news. Perhaps even do this while enjoying a cup of coffee. During this dedicated task we can carefully curate our responses to everything with greater clarity and purpose. Those first thirty minutes in the office will set the tone for the rest of your day. Protect that time. Infuse your day with thankfulness where possible. I challenge you to thank someone on your way into the office. Maybe it’s your barista at Starbucks or a person at the office who helped you with a project the day before. Whomever you choose to thank, I guarantee it will help them start their day with a smile and perhaps they will continue to pay the gratitude forward.
In the same interview with Van Jones, Oprah continues to share a great insight on leadership that is correlated with the nature of being a grateful person: “Do not spend all your time talking about your opponents. Do not give your energy to that which you really don’t believe in. Do not spend an ounce of your time on that.” Good leaders know that building people up instead of tearing people down is how you gain influence, and most important, earn the respect of your colleagues. Leaders understand the power of a “thank you” for employees can serve as motivation, even more so than financial rewards. The act of being thankful helps us feel united. In organizations big and small this is a key to creating sustainable culture of which gratitude can become the foundation.
In an article published by UC Berkley’s Greater Good Magazine, writer Kira M. Newman highlights Southwest Airlines and Campbell Soup as companies that make gratitude a priority by recognizing employee milestones both personally and professionally to show consistent organizational support.
The article also cites experts who have studied the science of gratitude like Steven Foran, founder of the program Gratitude at Work who says, “[Gratitude is] going to make your business more profitable, you’re going to be more effective, your employees will be more engaged—but if that’s the only reason you’re doing it, your employees are going to think you’re using them…You have to genuinely want the best for your people.”
We all want to feel more valued, more appreciated, more respected at work. This connects us back to that work in remarkable ways. Whether it is a simple thank you note for a job well done, developing a gratitude program or providing major recognition on a grand stage for other employees to see, authentic leaders understand that expressing thankfulness fosters a more engaged workplace. Showing and receiving gratitude can lead to your own career growth and your employees will also find greater purpose and connection to work.
If you want to continue the discussion around gratitude in the workplace, developing a culture of recognition and creating thankful leaders, let’s connect.