When you express gratitude, something as simple as a “thank you,” the recipient feels good about themselves and feels good about you. You, in turn, feel good about yourself and feel good about the other person too. So when we toss that pebble, gratitude creates a cascading ripple effect.
Will we ever run out of pebbles? Look around you, those pebbles are everywhere. Is gratitude in short supply? Am I given, say, just six expressions of gratitude (six “thank you’s”) each day? No, quite the contrary. There are no limits on the amount of gratitude you can express, the supply can never run out, and no police officer will ever write you a ticket for “excessive gratitude in a no-appreciation zone.”
What you decide to do is up to you, of course. I know people who are so stingy with gratitude that they express it maybe once a year, perhaps at Christmas -- “I appreciate my family,” uttered once a year.) Does this “stingily given” gratitude have more weight, more impact on the receiver? Should you spend your whole life seeking the gratitude of some stingy person, in hopes that, perhaps on their deathbed, they might utter the magic “thank you for all you’ve done”? I know people who do exactly this, and they are deeply unhappy people (so are the “stingy” gratitude-givers, by the way.
I don’t look at gratitude as something that must be earned after years of struggle and pain. Smart people express gratitude freely as a way to change others and change the world. People respond well to expressions of gratitude. Nobody has ever told me, “darned it, could you knock it off with all these expressions of gratitude!” People aren’t built that way. When we genuinely express gratitude, it creates memorable moments for both the giver and receiver.
Showing appreciation is especially important in business. It’s a way we can reinforce the positive behaviors of people we work with. For example, I express gratitude for the opportunity to work with good people who are also competent, professional and (gasp!) even kind and generous at times. I model these behaviors myself, and I express gratitude when I see them in collaborators.
If I’m not expressing gratitude or being appreciated, I can’t work very long with someone. I am deeply professional but, in the same complex package, also profoundly human. I WANT to express gratitude and when I don’t find opportunities to do so, I know something is wrong with the working relationship. Gratitude, as I’ve said, is a good in itself but it’s also a magical tool (non-digital, usually) for strengthening business relationships and driving positive collaborative outcomes.
The people who know me well know that I care deeply about gratitude. It’s free, it helps me and the other person, and it can help build a better, kinder world. What’s not to like about gratitude, genuinely expressed? Others may disagree, but I don’t think we should be rationing gratitude as if it’s some scarce resource. It’s not. You have opportunities to offer gratitude every single day. You should be availing yourselves of those opportunities.
I’m 52 years old, but I’m still the same person I was at age 10 who’d spend summer afternoons by a pond tossing pebbles into the water, happily watching the ripples moving toward me. For those of you who think life is so challenging (it is), that other people are difficult (they can be), that we can’t change the nasty, divisive tenor of the status quo (yes, we can), I’d ask you to begin by seeking opportunities to express gratitude. It’s not magic, but it’s a good place to begin. Pick up that pebble, find a pond, toss away, and see the ripples that gratitude can create.
By the way, thanks for taking the time to read and consider this (and my other) musings . . . a writer is nothing without good readers like you.