Workplace gratitude can be a surprisingly difficult topic to talk about. On one hand, we shouldn’t have to argue much for the merits of recognizing others’ efforts at work. Each of us can point to a time when we were recognized and how great it felt. We need to feel appreciated. It’s a natural human trait.
At the same time, taking time out of our day to thank others can feel like a burden. As if it’s another thing on our to-do list.
Tell someone they’re great…! (Check.)
It can also feel strange to publicly thank someone else if your work culture isn’t always open to such displays or if you’re nervous about how someone will respond.
So we’re going to put some of those fears to rest and help turn your workplace into an unabashedly grateful place.
Saying Thanks Isn’t All That Hard
It really isn’t hard. It’s just awkward sometimes. Like saying I’m sorry. Feelings happen when we try to say the words. Fortunately, that’s exactly why it’s important to do.
When we’re able to express emotions with and around others, we create a sense of camaraderie. We're trusted more because of our willingness to be open. And that feeling of cooperation spreads. Studies have shown that cooperative behavior is contagious, so as one person begins saying thanks, others will follow. Each of us can be the leader.
Practicing gratitude is also good for your health. It’s been shown in numerous studies to decrease depression, while increasing happiness, self-esteem and overall well-being. Teaching ourselves to focus on the positive can reduce negative thoughts, reducing aggression and envy.
Say Thanks Today
Here are a few ways you can boost the gratitude meter at your work:
- Start small: If making a public declaration isn’t your thing, start by sending simple thank you emails. Shoot for one a day to different people. Try to catch people doing something good and recognize it. Once you feel more comfortable, start thanking people aloud.
- Be specific: You don’t want to be the company that gives a ’thank you for your service’ keychain after 10 years. It's no wonder people think showing gratitude is strange. Instead, recognize a specific action. Try something like, Hey, thanks for hopping in on this project. It really helped me get it done faster and the client was thrilled. Easy peasy.
- Practice everywhere: The most powerful part of my day is my morning gratitude journal practice. It helps me practice finding things to feel grateful for and gets my mind in a place to do good work. This is especially helpful if you’re having a tough day. Take out a piece of paper and write down three things you’re grateful for. Soon you’ll see good all around
For more thoughts on gratitude, read our advice for mindfully navigating a workplace with high burnout.