The beginning of the holiday season is a good time to take stock of the things for which we are grateful.
Numerous scientific studies found that having a grateful outlook, “counting one’s blessings,” and expressing gratitude to others can have positive effects on our physical and emotional health as well as on interpersonal relationships—including those at work.
Say thank you
The act of expressing gratitude, such as by writing thank you letters or listing the positive things in our lives, is essential to reaping these benefits.
Multiple studies indicate that expressing gratitude to acquaintances, co-workers, friends, or romantic partners increases connection and satisfaction for both the giver and the recipient. It can give a relationship a boost and helps bind us more closely.
This is yet another argument for sending a short but well-written and tailored thank you letter or email after every job interview. Don’t job seekers want to boost their relationship with the potential employer?
When employers actively recognize employee performance, well-being increases, resulting in improved business outcomes. Employees who feel they are receiving the “best recognition possible” are more likely to be top performers in the organization. Thus, recognition or thank you can lead to higher profits.
How to express gratitude
Brian Tracy, a business motivational speaker, articulated the “Four A’s for Expressing Gratitude,” which spells out tactical ways to say thank you. They are:
- Appreciation – Express gratitude to everyone and develop an attitude of gratitude;
- Approval – Give praise and approval for reasonable effort and all suggestions or ideas;
- Admiration – Compliment people on their traits and accomplishments; and
- Attention – Listen mindfully to others with patience and attention.
An expression of gratitude doesn’t have to be lengthy or time-consuming. A quick email or text is sufficient, but specificity matters. It deepens and intensifies our experience of gratitude.
Not only does expressing gratitude improve the well-being of the giver and the recipient, but it also may be good for those who witness it, including family members, coworkers, friends, and neighbors. Studies show that merely watching an expression of gratitude between two people can cause the observer to feel more warmth and affinity toward both the person giving thanks as well as the one receiving it.
Thus, expressing gratitude can help build multiple relationships within a social network directly and simultaneously. Just think about what that can do in a work environment!
Make it a habit
Many experts believe that a small dose of gratitude, once a day, is ideal.
One strategy is to write a gratitude journal. “The act of writing slows down our thinking process and allow us to ponder more deliberately,” says Dr. Joel Wong, a professor of counseling psychology at Indiana University’s School of Education who studies the effects of expressing gratitude. He adds, “By writing, we retain a permanent record of our blessings; we can return to our gratitude journaling months or years later to recall what we were grateful for.” Thus, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Don’t know where to begin? Dr. Wong created a list of 100 questions to get you started.
We can be grateful for that.