What or who are you thankful for?
For many families nationwide, this question will likely guide a conversation around the Thanksgiving table. But you may not know that many cultures express gratitude for blessings and good fortune this time of year (and throughout the year). In every corner of the world, people are giving thanks, whether in China’s Mid-Autumn festival, Harvest Festivals in the UK, Chuseok in Korea, Kinro Kansha no Hi in Japan, Homowo in Ghana, the practice of Hakarat Hatov in the Jewish tradition, Eid al-Fitr in the Muslim tradition, Thanksgiving in Canada and the US, or Erntedankfest in Germany. And that’s only a few examples from an exhaustive list!
This reminds us that the concept of gratitude is universal and certainly not a new concept. It has been a topic of interest to ancient, medieval, and modern philosophers and is a grounding theme of some world religions. It originates from the Latin, ‘gratus’ which means pleasing and thankful. It is where we get the word grace, gratuity and gratis.
Why are we so hardwired to value gratitude?
It is a fundamental aspect of being human. Gratitude has an enormous positive impact on our emotional well-being, physical healing, and mental health. It has been proven to reduce fatigue, lower cellular inflammation, increase resiliency, and strengthen relationships and overall job satisfaction. In a nutshell, it connects us, and it creates community.
In the business world, gratitude takes the form of respect and recognition, which we know results in a healthier workplace and employee retention. With talent being such a priority today, it surprises me that so many leaders do not take the time to thank others or don’t fully understand the power of making someone’s day. It costs so little, and the cost of not doing so – and losing your top talent, particularly during a talent shortage – is high.
In many of today’s modern workplaces, no one gets their job done without others. At Weichert, we encourage and embrace authentic recognition and leverage a platform that allows our colleagues to share stories of how their fellow colleagues around the world have lived out our Company Beliefs, going above and beyond for a customer, a client or one another. Through showcasing these stories, we honor those colleagues who have been with us for years. It’s because of them that we have sustained our reputation (like earning a Decade of Dominance as service experience leaders), and we want them to know that we recognize this.
Yet, I find some people often hesitate to express appreciation for fear of appearing incompetent, or they underestimate its impact. “What if people think people think I’m being insincere?”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you are a leader, all the research underscores that your ability to influence others is not simply reflective of competence and business acumen, but your ability to inspire and connect with others. Earning the right to be heard, specifically when driving strategic change, involves anticipating resistance, showing relevant vulnerability, sharing personal motivation, and expressing gratitude to others. As a leadership consultant for over 20 years, I’ve come to learn that, in an attempt to prove our value, many fall into the trap of minimizing the efforts of those who come before us.
If you are a manager coaching team members, especially as they learn something new, it is far better to praise progress than to reprimand. Reprimanding a learner oftentimes stunts progress and hurts the soul. Psychology studies have revealed that it takes 7-10 positive comments to make up for one negative criticism.
Now, if they still have a problem tying their laces at 14, well, maybe that’s another conversation for another blog post. But it’s a reminder to bring this same awareness to how we guide our teams.
While November is a month we often associate with gratitude, it is also the month my dad passed away at the age of 79. In fact, one of my keen memories of my father is how, after turning 60, he would start his day with unbridled enthusiasm. Each day, I would ask him why he was so upbeat, and he would always respond, ‘Son, I got a bonus today’. You see, his father died at 60 years old, and my dad was sure he would suffer that same fate. Yet, he seized each day, grateful for the opportunity to work, or spend time with his family, take in nature, or engage in one of his interests. He cherished life. And he loved Thanksgiving and having us all together as a family. The transformative impact of his new “gratitude” mindset was not lost on me.
In business and in life, we all want to feel appreciated and valued. Meaningful work comes from performing well and enjoying the ride. I am thankful for working with colleagues of strong character and unique skills who will always stop to help another colleague, even if they, themselves, are busy. Helping others succeed is what we do. Now that’s a bonus!