Are You Grateful?

Are you truly grateful for all of the good things in your personal and professional life? There are many benefits to your team when you are thankful for them. But there also are many benefits when you appreciate all of your blessings. It might even extend your life! At least, that is what one study of Catholic nuns shows. Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Security in 2001, researchers said that nuns regularly expressed gratitude, and were generally happy and positive, and lived ten years longer than their peers.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Whether or not you can demonstrate gratitude like a nun, we know that you cannot be successful at work without a hard-working team around you. 

Have you told them lately that you appreciate what they do?

It helps. Dr. Robert W Emmons, at the University of California, Davis, took a look at the benefits of showing gratitude. You will likely have lower blood pressure, stronger immune systems, and get better sleep if you do. You will be more positive, more alert, and happier. Persons who show more gratitude are usually more compassionate, forgiving, and more outgoing.

Plus, your team will do better work. A University of Pennsylvania study showed that employees are 50 percent more successful when the boss shows appreciation.  They experimented with fundraising callers and found that bosses who showed appreciation had 50 percent more successful workers.

So look for ways to say thank you to the people who work with or for you.  Make it a practice to thank someone every day.

Show gratitude from the heart. If you are faking it, others will see through your facade.

Don’t think you are too busy.  The former CEO of Campbell Soup wrote 30,000 thank you notes to his employees. Douglas Conant told Fast Company, “Most cultures don’t do a good job of celebrating contributions. So, I developed the practice of writing notes to our employees. Over ten years, it amounted to more than 30,000 notes, and we had only 20,000 employees. Wherever I’d go in the world, in employee cubicles, you’d find my handwritten notes posted on their bulletin boards.”

A Portland State University study with nurses who are usually under-appreciated found that being thanked more often in the workplace leads to better sleep, fewer headaches, and improved eating. 

Begin by thanking the people who are rarely recognized. Now, of course, you want to acknowledge the work of your star performers, but you also need to express your pleasure and confidence to the person who gets minimal recognition. I thanked a cleaning person and mentioned all the little things I noticed he had done in our offices. He said he didn’t think anyone noticed.

Create opportunities for others to praise colleagues who deserve some recognition. The University of California, Berkeley, created a platform to facilitate the effort.

You will want to be specific in your praise. Saying, “Hey Bob, good job,” isn’t as good as mentioning a particular project task Bob completed on time and within budget.

It’s nice to compliment someone in person. Also, consider a handwritten note. Just don’t do it in an email. Handwritten notes stand out and get noticed. Emails get lost in the clutter.

Indeed, some employees might appreciate a financial bonus, but this not always possible.  Consider the offer of a little extra time off. This works for an individual who needs to be rewarded, but if you have a team that has just finished an arduous project, let everyone leave early on a Friday.  Fall was always a busy time where I worked, so I declared the day after Thanksgiving as “Fat Friday” and shut the office.

Consider bringing in lunch. The investment in a bunch of pizzas or sandwiches will pay many dividends.

Get some gift cards to the nearby coffee shop or local movie theatre and include them with your note.

Recognize everyone’s birthday with a card. Even if people say birthdays don’t matter to them, everyone secretly wants to be remembered.  As an added touch, mail those cards to the home address of your employees rather than put them in their office mailbox.

It’s the small things that matter. But failing to show your appreciation gives the impression that you don’t care.

It’s also a good idea to show your appreciation to your boss or your board of directors. Not just on Bosses Day. If they have offered you exceptional help or green-lighted your pet project, send him or her a thank your note or thank them in front of their peers. Make sure it is straight forward and doesn’t appear like you might have an interior motive. If our staff was celebrating an accomplishment, I would invite my boss. I think he appreciated feeling part of the team. After two of my bosses approved an upgrade in my pay, I took them out to lunch. Everyone likes food.

Whether you are showing your appreciation to your boss, a colleague, or your employees, remember this quote from motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”

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