Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. — Maya Angelou
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 of the need for personal, genuine thanks to others:
- In a digital world, where attention is a nanosecond, “thank you’s” seem to come as afterthoughts in brief texts (thx!) and hurried voice mails.
- Employee engagement is at all time low. A recent Gallup Poll found that only 13 percent of people worldwide are actively engaged at work. (Here in the U.S., the number was 32 percent, 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.
The need is so clear that Ivy League schools are doing serious research to understand the power of “thank you.”
A Harvard professor’s book explores the science of gratitude. Her research highlights how leaders’ expressions of gratitude motivate 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.
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.
- 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 other than 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”?
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