Bob Hope could twist everyone around his finger. All it took was one song, one “thanks for the memory”, and Shirley Ross was ready to reconcile their failing marriage in The Big Broadcast of 1938.
For 50 years, it worked on American troops, too. Hope mesmerized millions of military men and women with quick-punch jokes, a swinging golf club, and a rendition of that thankful theme song written especially for them.
He offered his appreciation. And it made a connection.
Gratitude works that way, whether it’s for something as big as thanking an infantry man for service to his country or as small as thanking a stranger for holding open the door. It holds a certain sway over its receiver. It soothes. It bonds. It pleases. It motivates. Yes, when used fittingly, it even manipulates.
Everyone wants a pat on the back. Metaphorically speaking. Physically? Not so much. When given in earnest, an “appreciate you” can inspire an employee or colleague or car mechanic to work harder, help more, or fix your vehicle right the first time.
Getting you a free repair? We never said it worked miracles.
What gratitude can do, especially in the business world, is get more of what you need out of the work force you already have. It works like a team of Oompa Loompa’s, toiling away mostly unseen to produce amazing visible results.
Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a recent study by Adam M. Grant and Francesca Gino found that gratitude can actually double results. A group of 69 participants were asked to offer feedback on a cover letter for Eric, a fictitious character. After they did, half received thanks from Eric, the other received a neutral response.
Then, when Eric asked for additional help from these 69 participants, guess what happened. Out of those thanked, 66 percent were willing to provide additional help. Out of the not thanked, only 32 percent didn’t think he was a total ingrate and offered to help again.
So thanks works. But why? Why does it have such a sway? Does it make us feel better about ourselves? It is all about our self-esteem? Our self-worth? Do we hope to cash in on that gratitude later?
Grant and Gina found a completely different motivation. According to their results, it isn’t about self-esteem; it’s about being valued.
The participants simply enjoyed being needed. The acts of thanks convinced them the need had been real.
They are. Exceptionally so. These days, words are going for next to nothing. Even though saying “thank you” is always a good idea, it doesn’t hurt to take it a step further. Take it beyond words.
Consider budgeting a small “golly, I love my employees” fund in your annual budget. Nothing extravagant is necessary when extravagance isn’t affordable. It really is the thought that counts.
If even a tube of chap stick simply isn’t in your budget this year, give them time: an afternoon off with pay, an extra vacation day, two hours off every morning for a week.
In giving, you’ll receive a more contented, more motivated, even harder working employee. After it’s all said and done, who’s really giving more?
Thanksgiving is one of our absolute favorite holidays. We really love pumpkin pie, for one. No, really. Love it. Football is great, too. Mostly, however, it’s a chance to review all the things we appreciate this season. Below is only a partial list.
- Jesus Christ. He always gets top billing. For who He is, for what He did, for a gift that far exceeds all other gifts.
- Our clients! We think so highly of you, we brag on you even when we’re off the clock.
- Thought Particles readers: This is a shout out to our coworkers in this employment of life. We love having you on this journey. And the ride is far from over.
- Apple. The company and the fruit. We’re big iPad users and apple pie eaters.
- Family. For comforting us when we need comfort, laughing at us when we deserve laughed at, and loving us when we’ll never deserve their love.
Next Thursday, as you sit down with your loved ones and a juicy bird, we hope you experience a day full of thanksgiving. That the green bean casserole doesn’t run out. That your favorite football team does you proud. That you remember the positive power of showing thanks.
Let people know they are needed. And if you’re feeling really festive, you can belt out a certain song by a certain comedic legend.
However you decide to show your gratitude, people will thank you for the memory.