My garden club was cleaning a park yesterday when one of the members came up beaming. "I was weeding when a young man came up and said, 'thank you'. He made my day!"
I thought she might be overreacting. I mean all the guy did was say thank you.
A little later I ran into the same man while picking up garbage. He came up it me and says, “Thank you. I love this park. I knew your club kept it up, but I’ve never seen you here. I just wanted to say thanks.”
I was surpsied to find how fabulous it felt to be appreciated. It made my day.
The good feeling lasted all day and I decided to look into the power of thank you. Any why wasn't everyone out there doing it? Not the robotic "thank you" you say to a clerk, but real heartfelt “thank yous”.
Turns out there have been all kinds of studies on the power of gratitude. Dr. John Demariti has a popular book dedicated to the topic, called The Gratitude Effect.
And there are also some great blogs, like a well-researched one by Amit Amin’s, The 31 Benefits of Gratitude You Didn’t Know About: How Gratitude Can Change Your Life.
I think I can safely say now, there are no downsides to gratitude--it has a positive effect in all facets of your life.
Yes, it can even help you be a more effective manager.
Amin writes, "Timely, sincere, specific, behavior focused praise is often a more powerful method of influencing change than criticism. Specifically, multiple studies have found expressions of gratitude to be highly motivating, while expressions of criticism to be slightly de-motivating but providing more expectation clarification."
Amin adds, "Contrary to expectation, if praise is moderate and behavior focused, repeat expressions of gratitude will not lose their impact, and employee performance will increase."
John Cleese agrees, "Everyone needs recognition and reassurance. If they deserve it, they want to be praised. It's not something you grow out of. At least I haven’t, not yet anyway. It gives you pride in your work and confidence in yourself. You enjoy your job more."
If you’re working your way up the ladder, don’t ignore the power of gratitude.
Various studies have shown that gratitude:
• makes us more social; making it easier to network
• improves our decision-making
• makes us productive.
Still not convinced there is power behind a thank you? Well, consider the alternative.
In Rene Shimada Siegel’s article The Importance of Saying Thank You, she says, "When I give someone my undivided attention or a personal referral, it's shocking how rarely I receive a "thank you." These two simple words can make or break professional connections, job opportunities, a career and employee relationships."
I'm ready to add more gratitude to my life, both at work and home, and I challenge you to do the same. Look to your friends, colleagues and staff, and find those things your appreciate. Say "thank you" once a day for a week to someone different.
I think you’ll find it contagious.
To get more infromation on respectful workplace training solutions, visit our Workplace Communication Training solutions page.
Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor--with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.