Transformative effects of appreciation that you might not have realised
By DAVID KAHN
The end of the year is a special time – it’s a chance to take stock of all we’ve accomplished and look ahead to all we’d like to get done in the year to come.
Between these introspections, it’s important to both feel and express our gratitude to those who have helped us get to where we are.
This may sound like an idealistic, “aw shucks” sentiment, but researchers have dedicated a great deal of time to studying gratitude over the last few years.
Their findings show the many benefits both for individuals and for organisations. Here are a few recent studies that will improve your workplace and make you a better, more appreciative leader.
Gratitude reduces social comparisons. This allows us to appreciate others’ accomplishments and feel less resentful, which is a key factor in self-esteem.
A study in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that athletes who expressed higher levels of gratitude toward their coaches had more self-esteem than those who weren’t as openly thankful.
And the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reported that people with neuromuscular diseases who kept a “gratitude journal” had a greater sense of well-being and more positive moods.
The ability to recognise what you are thankful for, especially during traumatic events, fosters emotional buoyancy.
It helps you bounce back quicker and maintain an optimistic outlook. A study in Behaviour Research and Therapy found that veterans who experienced higher levels of gratitude were more resilient, more willing to forgive others, and less likely to experience post-traumatic stress.
Similarly, a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following terrorist attacks.
Displaying gratitude is more than just being polite; it can help you build your network.
A study published in Emotion found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship and has an increased potential for a “high-quality social bond.”
This display of gratitude can be as simple as saying “thank you” or writing a short note.
In addition, a slightly older study from Cognition & Emotion shows that gratitude promotes social affiliation and strengthens relationships, which is helpful when facilitating teamwork and group activities.
People who express gratitude are more likely to engage in “pro-social” behaviours. Research in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that “gratitude motivates people to express sensitivity and concern for others.”
These individuals display significantly greater empathy and sensitivity. They are also less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback.
Another study found that people who express more gratitude are more likely to help others, a key ingredient when working with a team.
Still not convinced that your organisation needs a boost of gratitude?
- Gratitude reduces turnover, fosters employees’ organisational commitment, and aids in “eliminating the toxic workplace emotions, attitudes and negative emotions such as envy, anger, and greed.” (International Business Research)
- Gratitude positively influences the relationship between managers and their direct reports, affecting subordinates’ sense of feeling trusted, improved performance, and overall satisfaction. (Journal of Psychological Science)
- Individuals who feel more grateful demonstrate greater patience and delay making hasty decisions. (Psychological Science)
- More gratitude leads to increased loyalty from employees and clients. (Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology)
- Daily gratitude exercises result in higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, and energy. (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology)
To be a more influential leader, be a more thankful leader. Find reasons to show appreciation to your team.
It’s inspiring, motivating, and as per the numerous research, it is good for business.
To kick off this new initiative, start the holiday season with a gratitude list. If you feel it’s making a difference, keep it going through the new year. It is cheaper than buying everyone a fruitcake and its positive effects will last much longer.
David Kahn, PhD is a leadership strategist focused on delivering business solutions that link workforce strategies, culture and engagement with the business goals of the organisation. Check out his latest book, Cape, Spandex, Briefcase: Leadership Lessons from Superheroes and read more of his articles on leadersayswhat.com