shopify analytics

Trust

How to Say Thanks and Show Appreciation

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.–– William Arthur Ward

Celebrating Thanksgiving in the U.S. this week has me thinking about the power of expressing sincere gratitude to others in business, and in life.

Signs are all around us on the need for personal, genuine thanks to others:

  • In a digital world, where attention is a nano-second, thank you’s seem to come as after thoughts in brief texts (thx!) and hurried voice mails.

  • Employee engagement is at an all-time low.A Gallup poll found that only 13% of people worldwide are actively engaged at work. (Here in the U.S., the number was 29%, nothing to brag about.)

  • Our national dialogue, from hate-spewing politics to bleep-coated TV, has become a coarse joke.

People have become so busy paying attention to the constant noise that appreciation of personal relationships seems to have taken second place.

Harvard Research
The need is so clear that Ivy league schools are doing serious research to understand the power of thank you.

A Harvard professor’s recent book explores the science of gratitude. Her research highlights how leaders expressing gratitude motivates people.

The professor mentions that her husband is working at a startup. One day, after her husband had been up all night working on a project, the professor received a card and flowers from the company’s founder, thanking her for her patience. It was pleasant for her and a motivator for him.

I worked with a CEO who was the best I’d ever seen at saying thank you to people. There were times I would ask myself if it was too much, but I had to say no. The thanks were always delivered sincerely and with the appropriate tonality for the situation.

Sincere Appreciation
What can we do to bring sincere appreciation back to life? Think about these expressions as a starting point:

  • Sending a handwritten thank you card to a person’s home with a small, relevant gift related to one of their passions. (One leader recently confided to me that a quick, handwritten thank-you note he'd given an employee was still pinned to her cubicle wall three years later.)

  • Making a public statement, whether at a team meeting or family event, with clear, sincere thanks to one or more people. It lifts the morale of everyone.

  • A face-to-face, show up with no agenda, but to say thank you.


Of course, there’s also that opportunity around the dinner table this Thursday, or those moments this holiday season when you are one-on-one with someone you rarely see.

What better time to say, “I appreciate you?”

Also, readers, thank you for sharing your time with me this year.

Best wishes for the holidays,
  

John
 

P.S. –– To talk with me, please visit our contact page.

If you found value in this message please use the buttons below to share it with someone who might benefit.

How to Speak from Your Heart

Speak your heart. If they don't understand, the message was never meant for them anyway. 

— Yasmin Mogahed


Whenever I speak, I make sure to practice what I preach: I tell stories to connect with people. I speak from my heart.

Speaking to a workshop of five hundred people in Las Vegas recently, I shared a story of a powerful experience I had twenty-five years ago when I was leading media relations for an insurance company in California.
 
Part of my role was to go to the scene of disasters and work with the media, which over the years took me to hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, and other tragedies.
 
Hell on Earth
My first major disaster was a scorched-earth fire that destroyed more than four hundred homes in the beautiful seaside town of Santa Barbara. It’s usually heaven on earth, but this day it looked like hell on earth – as if a meteor had struck the side of the mountain.
 
To learn the business, I accompanied a claims representative to the destroyed home of one of our customers. He was an elderly widower who had lost everything – all of his family photos and other possessions – in the devastating fire.
 
During my presentation, I choked up and had to pause while telling this story. I still feel his loss, all these years later. Because of the lights in my eyes, I couldn’t see all of the people in the audience, but I saw glistening eyes in the first few rows. A woman in the front row was dabbing tears.
 
I realized we had connected. My heart had spoken to theirs.
 
Winning hearts and minds
We often use terms related to body organs to describe how we communicate with other human beings. We are of like minds, we trust our guts, and our hearts go out to people.

Of all of those, I believe our hearts are the most powerful in making a connection with another human being.
 
That’s why, for leaders, we talk about winning peoples’ hearts and minds, not their minds and hearts.
 
With this in mind, I’ll offer a few tips for speaking from your heart to make a deeper connection with people:

Share yourself. We have to be open and risk vulnerability to receive the same from others. Be authentic. People want to know who you are. What experiences shaped you? What brought you here? What motivates you? In sales, we talk about developing feelings of trust as “know, like, and trust.” “Know” starts with sharing yourself.

Be personal. Talk like a normal human being. So often during talks, leaders will shift into “presentation mode,” being formal and stiff. Learn to control your jargon and relate to people in a way that shows you are real and open. In a world where so much is contrived, people appreciate sincerity and authenticity.

Show your passion. What do you love in your life or your work? Sharing that and displaying your enthusiasm will go a long way toward showing people your humanity. We can sense when people are excited about something, and we get excited, too.

In high school in Southern California, I had a history teacher who was an aviation enthusiast with a focus on WWII. He had small model planes hanging throughout the room. Though it was the last thing my friends and I would typically care about, by the end of the semester we were going to aviation shows.
 
Our teacher’s passion and stories won us over. I still love planes today. (He followed his passion and left teaching years ago. He hunts for historical planes that were lost and has made significant discoveries.)

Listen to people. When we are present in the moment, when we listen fully to others, our words will flow more naturally. For some reason, maybe because our subconscious takes over, it’s much easier to speak freely and fully when we’ve listened to what people want and need in the moment. I’ve found this to be true across the board – from large audiences to one-on-one conversations.

Tell your story. Perhaps the easiest and most effective way to speak from your heart is to tell your story.  This is why great leaders tell stories. As humans, we are hardwired for telling and hearing stories. They convey who we are, they teach us lessons, and they build trust. Stories connect us as people.

Sharing your story will build trust with the people who are most important to you and your success, and building trusted relationships is the key to success.
 
It’s not easy to risk vulnerability, to speak from your heart. It’s uncomfortable, but that’s kind of the point. Anything that takes you out of your comfort zone takes courage.
 
Or, as they say, it takes heart. So speak from your heart.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Just visit my contact page to share with me.

Building Feelings of Trust as a Leader

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
 
                                                               – Maya Angelou
 

In a training workshop with leaders in Chicago recently, I said something I hadn’t said before.
 
As I showed a slide with Maya Angelou’s thoughts, I told them that if they remember nothing else from our day together, this would be enough to transform their communication in business and life: People will never forget how you made them feel, and trust is a feeling.
 
If a leader can’t build trusted relationships, nothing else matters. And people make feeling-based decisions on whether they trust you.
 
This is particularly true of emotionally charged situations because they deeply encode themselves in our minds. Scientists monitoring real-time brain activity with MRIs have confirmed that we are tribal animals making emotionally based decisions.
 
Protecting our status 
At work and at home and everywhere in between, we have encounters with others. By the end of the day we remember few details but we recall how their communication made us feel.
 
Think about it from your own perspective:
 
What do you remember from all of the communication you had last week?
 
What do you recall from the CEO’s presentation at the all-employee meeting; from that call with your boss; from that personal conversation with your love interest?

Chances are you don’t remember the specifics, but you do retain the emotion – perhaps stress, pleasure, anger, joy, or regret.

That’s a huge part of why we remember few details but we always remember how others made us feel. Throughout the development of human history, we had to know where we stood in the group and with our leaders to protect our status as a member of the tribe. Look around your organization and you’ll know that’s still true.
 
 


Build or break trust
As leaders – and we are all leaders of influence in one way or another – our communication can have a powerful impact. People not only listen to our words, but to our tone and our attitude.

Together, these three elements give us the power to lift people up, to inspire them, or to wound them. All of these factors determine whether we build or break trust in our relationships.
 
If I ask you to reflect for a bit, I’m sure you can come up with something positive that was said to you by a parent, a teacher, or a friend that is still with you today.
 
On the other hand, if you’re like the people I coach, you can easily recall, and fixate on, a comment that was cruel or hateful. (One of the leaders in a workshop last year shared with me a decade-old comment a high school boy made about one of her facial features.)
 
We say we let it go, but the truth is we retain these forever. Right now, you can feel the result of that cutting remark from high school, elementary school, maybe even kindergarten.
 
You remember how they made you feel.
 
What we say, especially the negative, can last a lifetime.  It’s why we have to use this power with great care.  Instead, we don’t plan our communication and often blurt out what comes to mind in the moment. We may regret it later, when it’s too late.
 
How about you?
With your communication style – your words, your tone, and your attitude – how do you make people feel? Are you building trust?

Do they feel respected, or belittled?
 
Empowered, or micro-managed?
 
Engaged, or turned off?
 
As leaders, we should be more mindful. This doesn’t mean we can’t be firm or assertive, but we should be aware of the impact of our communication beyond our intended message.
 
Because they really won’t remember what we said, or what we did, but how we made them feel. And trust, after all, is a feeling.
 
Try to be observant this week and if you can’t figure out how you make them feel, there’s an easy way to find out: Ask and then listen carefully.