Monday Mornings with Madison


Gratitude is a choice. Each person can decide to look at any situation and appreciate the good in it. Life is never perfect. Even the happiest times will have things that go wrong. By the same token, even the worst days will have things for which to be grateful. The only question is whether the person chooses to focus on the sorrow, disappointment or frustration, or instead opts to be grateful for the good in each moment.
The truly spiritual believe in being grateful not only for the good in everything, but for all things. They propose that to be grateful for the good things in life is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives — the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections — that requires hard spiritual work.  They see truly grateful people as those who can say thank you to all that takes them to the present moment.  The truest attitude of gratitude then is in seeing the value of everything which has brought you to where you are now.

That attitude of gratitude is beneficial in all situations, even at work. When it comes to the workplace, though, most people think that gratitude is a one-way street. When an employee does his/her job, some bosses may think that it’s just to be expected and that thanks are not in order.  However, expressing and demonstrating gratitude for employees is vital to an organization’s success. Studies have shown that companies where employees feel appreciated are likely to have lower turnover, less theft and higher productivity.

In turn, employees also need to appreciate their bosses. Some hesitate to show appreciation to a boss for fear of appearing that they are currying favor. Some think there is no need to show appreciation for their boss because that person is supposed to get appreciation from his/her own boss. Or, if the boss is the owner of the company, then some may think that that is its own thanks.  Not necessarily. Words of appreciation for the boss are in order as a way to acknowledge the good that they do for the organization. It feels good to be appreciated. Gratitude is essential to maintaining a healthy employee-employer relationship. 

Moreover, appreciation is not restricted just to boss-employee relationships. Everyone should demonstrate gratitude or appreciation at work with each other. Gratitude is an essential work skill. Ask yourself this question: Is there someone or something you’ve taken for granted at work in the past? Is there someone or something that you realized how much that truly meant to you only after the fact? The truth is that there are great things happening at every job every day. At work, we interact with amazing people daily. It is a choice to recognize it, acknowledge it, and embrace it through thoughts, words, and actions.

Here are 10 ways to express or demonstrate gratitude at work.

  1. It may sound obvious, but it is important to express appreciation. William Arthur Ward once said that “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” A more gracious, polite workplace is appreciated by everyone, not just the person getting the thanks.   Here are some tried and true words of appreciation to use.
    “Thank you.”
    “I truly appreciate your…”
    “I really appreciated your help with …”
    “Thank you for helping me with…”
    “How can I ever possibly thank you.”
    “Thanks a million for…”
    “I’m so grateful for…”
    “I’ll forever be grateful for…”
    “I appreciate it.”
    “I appreciate what you did.”
    “You have my gratitude for…”
    “Without you, I wouldn’t have been able to… Thank you.”
    “How can I ever thank you?”
    “How can I show you how grateful I am for what you did?”
    “There are no words to show you my appreciation.”
  2. While we’re on the subject of words, pay attention to the words you use with others. Speak with the most positive words possible. Words have the power to create, not just describe. Positive words convey an attitude of gratitude.
  3. Praise a coworker (not necessarily just someone who reports to you) for a job well done.  Be specific about the actions that were admirable.  Your praise may just make their day.
  4. Be positive in your interactions with others. Your upbeat, enthusiastic spirit is one way to show others how much you appreciate them. Having a sparkle in your eyes, a bounce in your step and an utter sense of delight will communicate to coworkers that you are happy to be working with them… and that message of appreciation is better than any gift.
  5. Ask coworkers about family, hobbies, time spent on weekends and special events. Genuine interest makes people feel valued. They key word there is ‘genuine.’
  6. If you manage people, offer flexible scheduling around holidays when possible.
  7. If you know a coworker’s interests, present a small relevant gift occasionally.  It doesn’t have to be expensive. The gesture will light up that coworker’s day.
  8. Almost everyone appreciates food. Take a coworker to lunch for a birthday, a special occasion or to say thanks for something that helped you or others.
  9. Write a thank you note when someone does something particularly well. It takes only two minutes to write a brief note of thanks but it is something that any colleague would cherish and remember.
  10. Some companies develop Appreciation programs to encourage an attitude of gratitude at work. Recognitions can be given weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. Such programs don’t have to be costly. For example, one mid-sized company created the “Shining Star” award. The star-shaped trophy was given each week to someone that either did something particularly good or was consistently helpful and diligent about their work. The choice of who received it was the person who had the trophy the week before. The trophy continually floated from staff to staff (desk to desk) throughout the organization.  Each week’s winner was announced in an email sent by HR to all staff each Monday morning. Other than the cost of buying the initial trophy, there was no other expense to the organization. Yet, it allowed staff to express appreciation for one another.

Today, try this experiment. Adopt an attitude of gratitude throughout your day and see the impact it has on you and everyone around you. You may just decide that you being grateful will make everyone appreciate you more too!

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” John Milton

© 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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