Three Important Ways to Show Gratitude

Gratitude — being thankful for the people, experiences, and things that have made our lives better. An important practice for our well-being. At the same time, as Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton remind us in their recent book, Leading with Gratitude, it’s equally important that as organizational leaders we regularly show gratitude for others.

Much more than simply, “say thank you,” Gostick and Elton highlight eight leadership practices that convey a sense of gratitude. Here are three of my favorites:

1) Solicit and act on input
Asking for input demonstrates respect. Yet how often do employees feel their ideas go into a black hole never to be seen or heard again? Acting on input and letting people know that you’ve acted on it shows that you value it and are grateful for their contribution.

2) Walk in their shoes
Don’t expect people to want to understand your world unless you first make an effort to understand theirs. Ask your employees what they’re working on to get an idea of what excites and what challenges them. If you have the opportunity to observe them in action — going on a customer visit with a sales rep, for example — even better. Taking an interest in their world demonstrates respect and shows gratitude.

3) Tailor to the individual
To be well-received, gratitude should be expressed in a way that is meaningful to the person receiving it. Some people, for example, love being recognized in front of their peers. Yet for others, that would scare them to death. Some people are touched by symbolic gifts; others, by sincere, heartfelt appreciation. Tailoring your gratitude to the individual shows you care enough to know who they are.

It’s important to take the time to reflect and be grateful for what we have. At the same time, it’s important that we show gratitude for others.

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