Gratitude cannot be forced and contrived, for example, the employee of the month award that lacks depth and has lost favour as a way to motivate. A culture of gratitude can only truly happen when it is driven from the bottom up, the most junior people need to decide how they will not only appreciate their colleagues but also thems
elves. It must be 'encouraged' from the top down, the organisational morals must have something that demonstrates how gratitude will filter through the company. True appreciation can never lie in hollow gestures ticked off a senior executive’s to-do list.
Not every way of demonstrating you are grateful will work for each person in your office. They will respond differently to verbal communications of thanks, the same for a note, a shout out in the company newsletter, or a badge to say they have reached a milestone. A team that has worked through this book will all know their core values. When showing gratitude, tuning into those will make huge strides in ensuring it is genuine and considered thanks.
Gratitude is a form of love, so Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages is a great place to find out who you are and what is most important to you when it comes to being appreciated. (63) He cites five levels of what motivates people in love:
Words of affirmation
Acts of service
While the idea is about love it is true of all matters of the heart and what drives us. I recommend you go to the website (5lovelanguages.com) and there you can do the test to find out what is most important to you. Obviously, someone who values physical touch, would want to shake someone’s hand or pat them on the back. This will guide you on appropriate ways to show gratitude to your colleagues and team.
Gratitude has an important part to play in the theory of positive psychology and through the research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
Martin Seligman (64) tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week's assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, those people who wrote the letters immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other positive psychology intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.
The research is extensive not only in the theory of positive psychology but across many theories. The key is to battle against the norms that a work environment gives you and do it anyway. Get addicted to gratitude.
Of course, it could be as simple as saying thank you. However, to really bring it into the core of a company you must instill practices that make this part of the essence, that is, not necessarily even named or that are seen as a chore.
I have developed a few ideas that you can use for your individual work on gratitude or within your company.
1. In-house letters and card box for employees to send each other notes of gratitude.
2. A blackboard of gratitude that gets filled up each day with images and notes.
3. Birthdays are always celebrated.
4. Rituals are developed for when new clients come on board.
5. All new recruits are given a personal gratitude journal to record their own gratitude.
6. Family day events or similar.
7. Social events.
8. Think about how you can drive being grateful in your day-to-day practices such as your meetings.
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