Gratitude: the underrated power

How can it be that two words, so simple in their construct, have such a profound impact on others?

It’s an undisputed fact that people work more effectively when they feel valued and appreciated. If either one of these key ingredients is removed you’ll soon be wondering why you bother putting in the long hours. Similarly, imagine a time when you did a favour for a friend, colleague or business contact for which they didn’t bother thanking you. How did that make you feel? Do you now feel less inclined to help them in the future?

Any one of us can say thank you, but saying it and truly meaning it is less common. You can tell when someone is being insincere. Whether it’s with flowers, a card or an emoji to give or receive a true ‘thank you’ shows that you appreciate or are appreciated and will go a long way towards strengthening your bond with the other person.

Mythbuster: saying ‘thank you’ is a sign of weakness

There are misguided beliefs that in business you have to be cut-throat, dictatorial and cold. Whilst this might have been acceptable 60 years ago, it’s time to get into the 21st century. With a much greater focus on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, managers are realising the importance that support and emotional intelligence play in reducing conflict and boosting productivity. The foundation to this lies in those simple words many of us were taught to say as children, ‘thank you’. Can you have too much of a good thing? Yes. If ‘thank you’s’ are used too often, their impact will decrease. So use it pragmatically so as to let others know its true meaning. Instead of conflict, a ‘thank you’ also opens us up to the possibility, and likelihood, of collaboration.

The power to disarm

Let’s consider an example. Astrid had been worrying about her next meeting for the last couple of days. She hated confrontation and wished she could have passed off the responsibility to someone else. That morning, getting ready for an argument, she headed into the office meeting room. Alex was already in the room, sitting with his arms firmly crossed. Astrid started listing all the mistakes Alex had made over the past few weeks from the quality of his work to his attitude to colleagues. When she finished Astrid paused, waiting for an argumentative response. Alex simply and sincerely replied, ‘thank you.’ At that moment Astrid was completely disarmed and shocked – it wasn’t the response she was expecting. Alex went on to say that if she hadn’t brought this to his attention, he’d never know what to improve on. The remainder of the meeting was productive, working out key strategies Alex could employ moving forward.

Think how unproductive that meeting would have been had an argument ensued. The power of a ‘thank you’ can never be underrated.

How can you boost the ‘thank you’s’ in your day?

The next time you’re sharpening the tools in your business toolbox, remember to work on your ability to say ‘thank you’.

Think back to yesterday, specifically those moments when someone else did something for you, however small. Write down these moments in a few words. Now ask yourself how many of these interactions resulted in you saying ‘thank you’. Maybe it was all of them, or perhaps it wasn’t any of them. Repeat this process each day until you find yourself looking for opportunities to thank someone for something. If you truly mean it, say it, wait and watch the response from the other person.