‘Tis the season that resonates with the gratitude theme, but shouldn’t we be grateful year-round, not just around Thanksgiving and Christmas?
Some people tend to become more grateful and express or show their gratitude to others as they get older, say in their 40s and 50s, when they’ve built a nice career and gained a sense of appreciation for those who helped them along the way. But we’re talking to you younger professionals here. The sooner you get the gratitude concept and are authentic about how you verbalize and exhibit it, the sooner this habit will benefit others on your work team and you as well.
Consider the benefits of showing gratitude at your company:
- You will positively impact others, and by extension, their work teams, by brightening their day, making them feel good about themselves, infusing the work culture with positive vibes, and inspiring them to keep up the good work. When people know their work will be recognized, they’ll work even harder
- You will enhance your image at the company, being perceived as a thoughtful, team-oriented person, a giver who cares about people and not solely your self-interests
- You might just climb the company ladder faster; leaders may see you as a leader, someone with a wider perspective than most whose benevolence, positivity, and encouraging ways can set a nice tone in the work culture and bring out the best in others
But gratitude must come from the heart. It can’t be faked. If you use it primarily as a means to get ahead at your company, people will see right through it. It requires a sincere interest in and appreciation of others, an understanding that the talented and hard-working people around you are necessary for team success, and realizing we all benefit from being noticed.
Developing and showing a grateful heart
- Gratitude starts with being a decent human being. People who have a choice avoid those who are rude, difficult, or unreasonable and instead choose to be around nicer, more congenial people. So be friendly, flexible, and generous. Don’t be self-centered or aloof. Be a team player who cares about everyone’s contributions. Be grateful and thank people who help you and others
- Be proactive: Help teammates before you’re asked when you see a need. Don’t wait to be helped to show gratitude. Take the first step. Those new to the company or the industry will likely welcome and benefit from your insight and encouragement. And yes, when others help you, show genuine appreciation and look for opportunities to reciprocate
- Remember: Gratitude is part of building a positive relationship with everyone on the organizational ladder. Treat everyone with respect, starting with the security and cleaning crews in your building. Treat all colleagues as partners, including the receptionist and administrative assistants. Spend time with colleagues and get to know them
Use your contact software to make notes about people you meet – their family members, interests, activities, memberships, and friends. Use this information to build relationships more quickly. And remember, a peer or someone who is below you now, or someone who reports to you when you become a manager, may one day become your manager. The enduring power of strong relationships cannot be overstated.
- Have their back; don’t backbite. If you’re going to pat people on the back, you had better not be a backbiter. Speak well of team members during conversations with others. Give colleagues the benefit of the doubt and assume good intent. When a question arises about a colleague’s conduct, withhold judgment until you know the facts. Compliment co-workers on work well done and connect people by passing on the compliments of others.
Gratitude is powerful. For both the giver of gratitude and the recipient, it can be life and career-changing. From a simple thank you to an acknowledgment during a meeting to a surprise gift, it can change how people perceive you and how employees interact, feel, and perform.
Don’t wait to “get” the gratitude thing later in your career. Get on it now and make your workplace happier and your work life more fulfilling.