In a setting where professionalism, polish and presentation are valued, a concept like “gratitude” or “appreciation” can feel out of place and uncomfortable.
But there are ways to bring those feelings to the office without it feeling forced. As a result, you’ll be happier and more successful.
Research suggests that gratitude has a big impact on the workplace, at the micro- and macro-levels. It not only has a direct effect on the climate and well-being of an organization, but it also diminishes negative emotions (like envy), and enhances efficiency, productivity, success and organizational loyalty.
It also increases satisfaction with our jobs and the people we work with. And it doesn’t just affect our work output – gratitude has been linked to taking fewer sick days, lowered stress, and fewer health complaints.
There are small, simple and free ways to express gratitude to others and foster it within yourself, without making any massive overhauls to your workflows or even spending a lot of time.
1. Set a timer and write in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes
Research has shown that this short exercise can increase positive emotions. You can write about anything and anyone: family, friends, people you’ve encountered at work that day, a delicious dessert or a hot cup of coffee. The key is to prime your brain to scan for reasons to be appreciative for fifteen minutes.
You don’t even need to use a specific journal – you can write it on a piece of scrap paper, type into an app on your phone, or even think aloud into a voice memo. If you’re having trouble coming up with fifteen minutes worth of material, try selecting one significant person, and writing about why you’re grateful for them, what function they’ve served in your life, the type of emotional support and spiritual development they’ve provided, and how they’ve aided in your success.
2. Send a colleague an email
An alternative to focusing the gratitude inward is to share it with someone. It can be in the form of a short letter or note to a mentor whose advice and guidance has shaped you or it can be a sincere email thanking someone for their assistance.
The important part is to make it specific, so that you’re moving beyond the generic “Thanks.” For example, notice the difference between these two notes.
- John, thanks so much for your feedback on that project last week! I really appreciate your time and input.
- John, your feedback on the project last week was great. Because of your input, I was able to identify some major gaps and make a much more powerful deliverable that the client will truly appreciate. You have such a great eye for detail and I really enjoy working with you!
3. Look beyond the obvious
Anyone who starts incorporating a regular gratitude exercise into their daily routine can attest to how repetitive it can get after a while. Before you know it, every day, you’re listing the same things: friends, family, job, and shelter, effectively diminishing the impact.
One solution is to be specific – So instead of, for example, writing “I’m grateful for my spouse” you can write about what exact thing they did or said that you’re grateful for that day. Another alternative is to force yourself to look beyond those things, and consider what you may be taking for granted.
Maybe your mail carrier always takes the extra measure to close your mailbox so that your items don’t get wet if it rains. Maybe you ordered fast food, and the server gave you extra napkins, which you had on hand for a spill later. Perhaps someone always restocks the paper cups in the break-room so you never have to look for one when you’re ready for a coffee. By moving beyond what’s right in front of us, we can find even greater appreciation for every little thing that enhances our lives.
If all of this feels unfamiliar to you, you don’t have to jump into immediately spending thirty minutes writing in a new journal every night. Try taking just one small step, like holding eye contact a few seconds longer with someone the next time you thank them, so they feel the sincerity. It may just make their day – and yours.
Find out how Engagedly can help you and your employees feel happy and grateful at work. Request for a live demo!
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