The One Thing that Changes Everything: Gratitude Attitude

If you could change one thing that would motivate people at work, create closer friendships and partner relationships, bring cooperation, and increase motivation, would you consider it? And if you knew that this one thing takes less than a minute yet can save you countless time and frustration later, would you do it? Of course you would.

Express Gratitude with Meaning

Woman expressing gratitude with meaning.I’m talking about a Gratitude Attitude (and I don’t mean just saying “Thank you!”). Human beings thrive on connection. We want to know we are respected and that what we bring is valued. Whether we admit it or not, we all like to be noticed and appreciated. Here is an easy way to do more of that and do it more effectively.

At the market last week I overheard a mom admonishing her toddler, “Say thank you.” The baby looked up, and as best she could, said, “Tank ooo.” I was reminded of how we are instructed from a very young age to say the words, “Thank you.” Yes, a polite, expected social norm. But does it have much meaning, really?

When was the last time someone gave you a simple “thank you” that made you feel truly appreciated, proud of your work and inspired you to do more? The perfunctory “thank you” we are taught misses a golden opportunity.

There is an opportunity to build trust and connection, help us focus on what is needed and motivate us to push our edges. This simple skill supports us to work a little harder, learn something new and, in the end, feel good about our endeavors ourselves.

Sometimes I hear from CEOs, team leaders and parents things like, “I don’t have time to coddle my people. They know what they need to do. They get rewarded in the end. They shouldn’t need me to hold their hands and praise them all the time.”

This misses the point. It takes very little to express gratitude with meaning – the simple skill outlined below – yet the dividends are enormous. Leaders who participate at Ryzio often say, “This difference in attitude has changed everything.” Or, “This one tiny skill has made all the difference with my team and it has changed the way my kids respond, as well.”

Here’s the secret: The best way to say thank you is to:

  • Describe what you see
  • Notice and describe your experience

Of course, this has to be authentic. Take a breath, slow down. Have some eye contact. Smile. This process takes less than a minute.

Describe what you see

Instead of saying, “Thank you for this report” try: “Your report was succinct and clear and you covered all the points from the meeting. I also notice how you gently presented the ask at the end.” Now pause. Meet their eyes. Smile. That’s all you have to do.

When you were younger and someone said, “Good game!” it may have felt positive. Suppose they had said, “I noticed how you waited until just the right moment to pass the ball.” You would know that person was noticing you, your skill, your performance. This difference is powerful.

We are taught to label, not describe. Pat phrases such as “good girl, nice work”

are better than nothing but don’t mean very much because they are so general.

Those around us need to know that:

  • What you are saying is personal
  • You really understand what it took to do the task, and/or
  • You saw the intricacies of what they are trying to do

This can only be done if we describe what we notice.

Here are some other examples:

When someone shows you a piece of work, point out things you see. This can be a team member’s finished project, a partner’s act of service or a child’s drawing.

You don’t always have to say you like it. You can simply describe it and show interest.

  • Your questions in the meeting took the conversation in a meaningful direction.
  • I see you’ve put the frame over there. I didn’t think of that. I’ll bet it will go well.
  • That color red appears here and here, and takes my eye right up to the logo.

Notice and describe your experience

When I know how my work affects others, I am doubly motivated to stay on course and keep working.

  • I noticed you worked late three nights in a row to get this done. You certainly saved me a lot of hassle. I appreciate your perseverance.

We need to feel seen, heard and appreciated. We need to feel a sense of belonging and importance.

The point is to be authentic, engage in a respectful way and help others know that you understand the value of their contribution. As you begin to describe what you notice and share how their actions affect you, the project and/or the overall outcomes, you will notice motivation increase, your people will work harder and your work will be easier.

This article was written by Marti Glenn, Ph.D., Ryzio Clinical Director