Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. – William Arthur Ward
Recently, a woman approached me at an event and said, “You probably won’t remember me, but 5 years ago I worked at the Boys and Girls Club and you spoke at our annual dinner. You talked about the power of encouragement and how you write regular thank you notes to your contributors, mentors and teammates. It was the one of the most impactful talks I’ve ever heard and it changed my leadership. Thank you!”
To be honest, I barely remember the speech, but it was an amazingly kind and encouraging thing for her to say to me – and honestly, made me feel really good.
I’ve shared this analogy before, but we don’t go to a football game and wait until the end of the game to applaud and cheer. We applaud for every play. We cheer when players enter the field. We clap when players exit the field. We applaud and cheer when they fall down, get hurt and then get back up. We celebrate almost everything.
However, for some reason, we forget to do that in the workplace. Gratitude and encouragement are so much more effective when they are immediate. When you see something great, pat your teammate on the back. Acknowledge small and great acts. Don’t just think positive thoughts – it doesn’t do any good – tell them! Acknowledge them in private and in public. Acknowledge them in front of their coworkers, their peers, their supervisors.
The secret? This is just as beneficial for you as it is for them.
It is nearly impossible to lift others up and stay in a bad mood yourself. You know the saying: It is better to give than to receive. This is exactly it. One of the best things I can do to de-stress myself is to write thank you notes to others. At the most stressful times, when I don’t have time to breathe, when my head’s pounding or when my email inbox is full, I’ll stop and write four or five notes. That’s why they are always sitting on the corner of my desk. Inevitably, I feel better and more productive, even though I now have less time in the day to finish the work.
People want to be appreciated. So, I write notes of gratitude and encouragement to acknowledge others, to lift them up and to let them know how important they are to me. But, in enlightened self-interest, I also do it to re-energize myself and my own leadership.
What’s the point of all this? This holiday season, spend some time thinking about how you can encourage and thank others, then watch the effects it has on your own leadership.
Question: Who can you thank or encourage this week?