"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others."
Cicero (106-43 B.C.)
Those Greeks were pretty smart, and Cicero’s statement is just one example.
According to an article in Psychology Today, gratitude is a sentiment we'd all do well to cultivate. “Feeling thankful and expressing that thanks makes you happier and heartier--not hokier.”
But more than that, when gratitude is expressed to others, many benefits occur. A simple “thank you” goes a long way in improving the morale and ultimate performance of others. Of course, it has to be genuine. Counterfeit praise is easily seen through and can do more harm than good.
According to Tom Rath, co-author of How Full Is Your Bucket, “Gallup polling has revealed that 99 out of 100 people say they want a more positive environment at work, and 9 out of 10 say they're more productive when they're around positive people.”
He points to research that shows when a work team has more than three positive interactions with managers for every one negative interaction, it is significantly more likely to be productive. The point is not to keep managers from correcting or reprimanding, but just to express more praise.
To improve your gratitude attitude, consider the following actions:
1. In your personal life, you can list the kindnesses of someone you’ve never fully thanked. According to Lauren Aaronson in Psychology Today, if you read this letter aloud to the person you're thanking, you'll see measurable improvements in your mood. She refers to studies show that for a month after a "gratitude visit" (in which a person makes an appointment to read the letter to the recipient), happiness levels tend to go up. In fact, according to her references, the gratitude visit is more effective than any other exercise in positive psychology.
2. In your practice life, list the positive contributions of each team member. Once each day, take just a moment to recognize your team member’s action and express it to them. Your communication does not have to be lavish, just a short 3 second notice of something good followed by a “thanks for the report, Dr. Smith” is all it takes.
One chiropractor I worked with years ago seemed to always be in a bad mood. He was quiet and basically ignored his staff. His opinion was that he paid them to work, they should work hard, and that was it. But, his office wasn't doing well so he called me in. I made several visits to his office, each time simply improving the communications between he and his team. I coached him on listening to each staff member and to simply acknowledge them for their contributions.
A few month’s later, we saw his practice grow. I remember this because he was always complaining to me that I was not doing anything for his office! (Sheesh!) His constant complaining and lack of appreciation was the real problem yet he just didn’t see it.
This concept is not new, of course, but it is worth remembering now and then. More studies that validate the practical aspects of this as a management tool are covered in the above referenced book. But beyond management, like Cicero says, it is just an all round good virtue to cultivate.
For a motivational tent poster with the above quote, click here.
And … thank you for taking the time to read this!
Note: If you feel you need some instant appreciation yourself, try this. (Will need speakers or earphones.)