The Power Of Gratitude
Never underestimate the power that a simple “Thank you” wields. Sadly, this is not something that you hear every day, and not everyone realizes just how powerful it is, whether on a personal level, shared between family members, friends and acquaintances, or on a more professional plane, between business partners and collaborators.
In this article, we share some insights into 1) what is gratitude, 2) what are the benefits of being grateful, and 3) what are the benefits of gratitude in business.
WHAT IS GRATITUDE?
Gratitude can be defined in several ways. The first, and probably most common, definition describes it as the quality of being appreciative or thankful. It is the state of being ready and willing to show appreciation and to return kindness received. Another definition refers to it as the “ability to be keenly aware of the good things that happen to you, and to never take them for granted”.
People have different ways of expressing gratitude. The most obvious, of course, would be saying the words out loud. “Thank you” and “I am grateful” are clearly the most straightforward ways to show how thankful a person is, but those are not the only ways of expressing them. Body language and gestures are also just as effective, and others would even say that acts of kindness and similar actions are just as effective in showing one’s gratefulness. Others even take the form of giving material items, such as money, gifts and the like. The method may vary, but the intention is the same.
Here is where you have to make the distinction between saying “thank you” just to be polite, and saying “thank you” because you truly are a grateful. The former is obligatory; the latter is true gratitude. Gratefulness is something that is heartfelt, not something that is done because you are expected to.
Here is a list of 25 things you should be grateful about.
BENEFITS OF BEING GRATEFUL
According to researchers, individuals who are freer and more generous in expressing gratitude are generally healthier and happier. Let us try to look at the bigger picture here and discuss the various benefits of gratitude.
Improved health and well-being.
This covers one’s emotional and physical health, as well as social well-being.
The fast pace of life that people are living today is wreaking havoc on their emotional well-being, and the sad part is that they do not realize it until it is too late. Stress levels are often unusually high, especially for those who are working jobs that demand too much of their time. As a result, they end up falling prey to feelings of anxiety and depression, to the point that they become hindrances to their normal day-to-day functioning.
A simple “thank you”, when received from other people, can boost one’s spirits and, for the person saying it, give them a feeling of lightness knowing that they showed how thankful they are. One of the most apparent effects on both sides is an increased feeling of optimism. People who are thankful and have no hesitations about expressing it tend to be the ones who have an easier time achieving contentment and, subsequently, happiness. They know that they did or said something good, which is why someone was grateful to them, or they are fully aware that they were able to make someone happy the moment they expressed their own gratitude. Negativity is greatly reduced, and your overall mood and outlook is improved.
Humans have a natural hunger for appreciation – the real kind – and thanks. In a way, being appreciated, and being made aware of it, is one way of letting us know that we matter, and that our efforts at anything and everything we do, actually amount to something.
Surprisingly, physical health also benefits from expressing and receiving gratitude. People who are more optimistic tend to display higher energy levels. When they are aware that they were able to do something that others were grateful for, one of the most natural responses is to do better, or to do more. It inspires them to perform better, or even go out of their way to do something for others.
Not having to deal with high stress and anxiety levels is also good for one’s health. Depression certainly takes a toll on the body, and if you can keep it at bay, then you will be better protected against diseases and illnesses. Being positive, which can be obtained through acts and words of gratitude spoken or received, is effective in strengthening one’s immune system.
This positivity will also trickle down to the person’s conscious decisions to take better care of their bodies. They do so by observing a healthy and balanced diet and even exercising or engaging in physical activities to further improve their health.
This is considered by many to be the biggest benefit of the expression of gratitude. It is human nature to find a group to belong to, in order for them to feel connected or, at least, be a part of something. Gratitude is very effective in building and maintaining relationships, so it is also a vital factor in achieving a sense of belonging.
Improved self-esteem and self-confidence.
Growth and maturity comes from within. It starts within yourself, and you have better chances of growing as a person, an individual, a career professional, and a business person, if you have self-esteem and have more than enough confidence in yourself. You’ll be amazed at how a simple “thank you” uttered by other people will give your self-esteem a much needed boost.
It is a fact that we cannot do everything by ourselves. We are bound to find ourselves relying on other people, and if we maintain a good relationship with them, this will be much easier. Being appreciative of other people, and having them appreciate you back, is a good way to build a relationship and maintain it, to keep it stronger long into the future.
Stress, negativity and being at odds with other people is sure to blur your view on a lot of things. With gratitude, you will be able to think clearly, because there is nothing negative clouding your judgment. You will notice that your problem-solving skills are much improved, and making decisions becomes easier, because there is nothing dragging you down. You will be more alert, and your sense of observation more keen than ever. It improves your focus, so you become more attentive to the things that matter most. It is easier to maintain objectivity when you have a positive disposition, and you will also find that you are much open to new learning opportunities.
You will notice that the abovementioned benefits are quite broad. How does this apply to something more specific, say, in business?
BENEFITS OF GRATITUDE IN BUSINESS
A wise and smart businessman looks at gratitude as a business tool or a strategy, one that he can use in order to make his business endeavors a success. Business goals often encompass increasing productivity and profitability and gratitude plays an important role in both. Although some may refute this, saying that gratitude cannot be quantified, many are also arguing that the results speak volumes.
Let us take a look at how gratitude can be useful in business, and why it is something that all entrepreneurs and businessmen should adapt and implement in their business dealings. Some say that gratitude applies to a business’ management and organizational structure; others claim it is more apparent in how it implements its marketing strategy. Some even go so far as say that it is an essential element in operations, while finance does not really benefit much from it.
At this point, it is safe to say that gratitude applies to all aspects of the business.
A. Gratitude improves business relationships.
Relationships are important in business. In fact, some even say that relationships are the lifeblood of business. And there is a lot of truth in this. Business owners have a relationship with their business partners, investors, financial institutions and providers of financing, suppliers and distributors, and its consumers. Businesses also have relationships with their competitors.
In all these relationships, gratitude plays a very important role.
Business owners should show gratefulness to the investors and lenders who are willing to provide funds for the business to start and expand. These third parties are likely to look upon you more favorably if they know that you are genuine in your appreciation of what they did (or what they gave), because it shows that you look at them as partners rather than mere sources of capital and financing. The next time you go to them for more financing, you will have better chances of obtaining the money that you need.
While it is true that your relationship with suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and other service providers is one where you both give and take, it is also encouraged that you show your gratitude for each other. They will be more motivated to continue working with you. A business will actually look forward to conducting transactions with another business that it appreciates, and vice versa.
Being grateful to your customers makes it easier for you to connect with them – and keep that connection solid for a very long time – so they will be more loyal to you and buy your products and services. You are looking at increased sales and profits, which is another way of saying that gratitude also brings in the sales.
Gratitude is an effective trust-builder. It makes you sincere and likable, so customers, partners, collaborators, investors and other businesses are likely to trust you more. There is truth to the statement “gratitude begets gratitude”. Be thankful to other people, and they will also feel grateful to you.
B. Gratitude improves and encourages learning.
Business people should never stop learning. The ever-changing and volatile landscape of business requires being alert and always ready for new opportunities. Change is also constant, so you should expect something new to crop up every now and then.
The enthusiasm that was boosted by feelings of gratitude will encourage one to seek new knowledge, in a conscious effort to know more, become better and improve as an individual, a team member, a manager, or a leader.
C. Gratitude improves problem-solving skills.
Gratitude makes you more self-reflective and deliberate in your actions and your words, so making decisions is not something that you will take lightly. Objectivity is improved, because you are able to focus on the relevant issues or the things that matter. Thus, you will be able to pinpoint problems more easily, and you can proceed on finding solutions for these problems in a faster and more systematic manner.
People who are grateful have a tendency to be more forward-looking and thing long-term rather than short-term, which makes them the better problem-solvers. This is because they are inclined to have more patience, and be more persevering in any undertaking.
Resiliency is also another offshoot of gratitude. The positivity that gratefulness brings enables a businessman to be able to cope well with difficult events and circumstances. It is very important in business to keep a level head, since panicking will get you nowhere. Resilient businesses have higher chances of being able to bounce back after a setback or crisis.
D. Gratitude improves your reputation and image.
Believe it or not, gratitude gives a very strong impression that you are successful. If your business is known as one that does not hold back when it comes to expressing gratitude, people will look at your business as a success.
In business, impressions play a role in building one’s reputation and image. As mentioned earlier, a willingness to convey thanks makes you likable, relatable and thus worthy of trust. Customers, investors and other interested parties will gladly do more business with you if you were able to cultivate an image and reputation of being a trustworthy and likable company.
Compare a retail company that thanks its customers for their patronage to another company that does not do anything. The tendency is for you to have a better impression of the first company, because they seem to care more about what you, the customer, thinks and feels, than the other retailer.
E. Gratitude makes you a better leader.
Teamwork is one of the components found at the core of every organization or business. The best ideas often spring from collaboration among creative individuals belonging to a team or a group, and that team can only come up with these ideas if they are cohesive. And what makes a cohesive unit? A lot of factors, but one of them is a good leader.
An exhausted and tired team is a poorly or non-functioning team. An appreciated team, on the other hand, can easily sweep their exhaustion to the side and get their work done. It is the responsibility of the team leader to “rally the troops”, so to speak. Boost and maintain their morale as best they could, so they can push through any limitations they are exposed to in performing their assigned tasks.
A leader who is not above being grateful to his people has a greater tendency to be more objective in viewing his people. He can easily focus on the strengths and positive characteristics of the members of his team, so he is able to match and assign tasks better.
F. Gratitude makes people work harder.
This is in conjunction with the previously discussed benefit of gratitude making someone a better leader. Try to compare two teams, Team A and Team B. Team A has been assigned a relatively easy task, while Team B was handed the more difficult assignment. However, the leader of Team A barely takes the time to show his appreciation for his team members. The team members feel unmotivated to finish their work or do a good job, because they feel that they will not be appreciated for it, anyway.
Team B, on the other hand, has a leader who consistently expresses his gratitude to his team members. As a result, despite the difficulty of their tasks, the team members are more motivated to work harder, because they know that not only are their efforts noticed, they are also appreciated.
Motivation is a crucial factor in how people work, and it can be derived from various sources: from your co-workers, from your bosses and supervisors, and even from customers or end-users. There is a different, almost special, quality to hearing your leader or boss appreciate your efforts. It makes you want to work harder, be better at your job, and even go beyond what is expected of you.
It works both ways, too. Workers who are grateful for their jobs tend to put more effort in their jobs, thereby increasing their productivity. If they appreciate what the company does for them, then they will not hesitate to return the favor, and that is by doing their best at their assigned duties and responsibilities.
Here is another important point business should understand about gratitude: it has to be expressed. It is one thing to feel grateful; it is another to feel it, and actually express it or show it.
Never mind that you cannot put an exact quantity or amount for gratitude, or place it anywhere on your financials. The truth is that you can never really put a value on something so valuable, especially when you can see that it brings wonderful results. Gratitude is a very powerful thing, and it is a tool that every business person should use if he or she wants to achieve his or her goals.