A simple “thank you” can go a long way in making someone’s day. It can also do a lot for a career and your personal well-being. Taking the time to appreciate one’s efforts on your behalf requires no more than a genuine “thanks,” but will solidify an authentic and mutually beneficial working relationship.
But it also has positive impacts on your health and wellness. It changes the way your brain manages stress and even offers an emotional high that can last much longer than a cup of coffee. Though we all enjoy a little positive reinforcement for our efforts, saying “thanks” is such a critical skill for career and health success that we need to regularly exercise it for the gratitude impact.
Make it Mindful: Start with yourself when it comes to gratitude. “By just taking a few moments of our day to acknowledge what we are grateful for,” says Emma Watterson, Holistic Health Coach, “this can bring a sense of peace and harmony and well-being to our bodies.” She explains how this small mindful exercise can put us at ease and release anxiety, as well as lower blood pressure and improve digestion.
Emma suggests practicing gratitude daily if not several times a day. “When you wake up, take 30 seconds or a minute to take a deep breath and think of one thing you’re grateful for in that moment. Oftentimes we are so self-absorbed and concentrating on the negative aspects of the day that we ‘forget’ to take a moment to be grateful for all of the opportunities and things we have in this life.”
Make it a Habit: Unfortunately, in today’s fast paced business environment it’s inexcusable, but quite easy, to overlook common courtesies. Saying “please” and “thanks” is a simple habit that doesn’t require much effort but holds big fire power.
“Gratitude is a challenge to define and measure and is therefore often overlooked or brushed off as ‘unscientific,’” says Nicole Guerton, owner of Dynamic Wellness. “To the contrary, gratitude and its benefits are being measured in a myriad of ways. A glance into the book ‘Thanks’ by Robert Emmons, or ‘The Happiness Advantage’ by Shawn Achor, will demonstrate this building evidence.”
One way to develop the habit of gratitude is through journaling. “Begin by finding gratitude in your own personal day,” says Lori Sternberg, trainer and coach. “Keep a journal and each day write down three things you’re grateful for.” She explains that these don’t need to be huge but can be simple but impactful. “Your list could be as simple as ‘I’m grateful for the boy at the store that assisted me to the car’ or ‘I’m grateful for my baby’s sweet smile.’” The most important thing is that you routinely add gratitude to your repertoire and recognize it in all formats. This helps make gratitude a healthy habit.
Make it Help: “Recognizing all of the positives in your life and being grateful for these keeps negative or hard emotions in perspective which in turn can reduce stress,” says Lori. Stress can cause physical and emotional health issues and it’s important to find ways to reduce the stress in our lives. “Our minds are powerful tools,”says Lori. “You can choose to use it for good or choose to use it toward destruction. Either way, you are in control.”
Make it Work: When offering gratitude in your professional environment you are recognizing others for their efforts, time, knowledge and thoughtfulness. “The small act of saying ‘thank you’ has great impact,” says Lori. “Your simple words show respect, acknowledgement and gratitude which can go a long way in the establishment of future relationships.”
Don’t over think this, as genuine gratitude can be expressed anytime and anywhere. “Making sure you take a moment to briefly stop someone in the hallway or stopping by their desk to say a quick ‘thank you’ really shows your appreciation,” says Emma. “By taking time out of your full schedule to show gratitude this really increases the level of respect for one another and makes for a better place to work and live.”
Make it Last: Handwritten notes mean a lot. The recipient knows that you’ve taken precious time to put pen to paper in expressing your gratitude. You don’t have to be Shakespeare to make it last, but the simple exercise and time invested in writing a special note means so much.
“First and foremost, an immediate and sincere verbal thank you goes a long way,” says Lori. “But the verbal thank you followed up and reiterated through a written note leaves a lasting impression. If you want to take it a step farther, write a handwritten note.” Lori sees the importance of handwritten notes, especially as a business owner. Sometimes she’ll send just note to a customer, or other times include a free future service or discount, and this has lasting impact. “Maybe a ‘thank you’ requires taking a client to lunch or dinner, sending flowers or a bottle of wine,” Lori suggests. “People remember a genuine ‘thank you’ thus leaving a positive impression that may lead to future business and partnerships.”
Make it Genuine: When it comes to gratitude, it doesn’t count unless it is truly genuine. “A genuine thank you goes such a long way in this plastic, saccharine sweet, fake and social media filled world,” says Emma. “When you’re genuine, people feel more valued and appreciated.” She believes strongly that a genuine thank you goes beyond words. “Full body expression and true gratefulness can be demonstrated through eye contact, Emma explains. “A firm handshake or gentle hug lets the person know you really mean it.”
Make it Easy: “Even with the scientific support for gratitude, one faces several paradoxical truths,” says Coach Nicole. “Gratitude does not negate the challenges we experience in life and gratitude sees opportunity within the challenge.” She goes on to reinforce how much gratitude can positively affect our brain and physiology. “A genetic predisposition to experience and express gratitude exists. While it takes practice, it is easily accessible.”
Kim Monaghan, PCC, RYT, CPBS is the owner of KBM Coaching & Consulting LLC, a boutique Human Resources Consulting and Career Coaching Firm serving a national clientele.