We are all taught that it is polite to be grateful, but does it make any other difference? Recent research suggests yes, including in the workplace.
Most people feel gratitude a lot and it makes them feel good to feel grateful
Gratitude motivates reciprocal aid giving
It can be considered as an emotion, a behaviour and a personality trait
As an emotion
As an emotion, it acts as a moral barometer, drawing attention to help received; it can encourage a behavioural response (offering help) and the expression of gratitude can act as an effective positive reinforcer to the behaviour for which it is expressed.
How likely we are to feel grateful also seems to relate to our estimates of the value of the help, how costly it was too provide and whether it was altruistically intended.
Expressing sincere gratitude can raise happiness levels for up to a month. Conscious cultivation of feelings of gratitude by identifying three good things about your life each evening is very self-reinforcing and increases happiness levels. The effects seem very durable.
As a personality characteristic
As a personality characteristic it seems that some people feel much more gratitude than others.
People who express extensive gratitude are more likely to have higher levels of happiness and lower levels of depression and stress
It has one of the strongest links with mental health of any personality variable
As an aid to social relations
Gratitude is uniquely important in social relationships, contributing to an upward spiral of helping and mutual support.
People who do not experience gratitude may not notice they have been helped and may not reciprocate, thus decreasing the likelihood that they will receive help in future.
Grateful people are seen as more empathetic, agreeable and extroverted. They are more likely to be seen as helpful and unselfish with others.
Those who express gratitude are more likely to see the world as friendly and hospitable
So the moral of the story for managers is…..
- Be grateful.
- Encourage others to be grateful and to directly express their gratitude sincerely to anyone to whom they feel grateful.
- Encourage people to notice when they have been helpful and to express their appreciation of the help.
- Offer help to others to encourage the creation and maintenance of mutual reciprocity.
To learn more about positively reinforcing behaviour through effective use of rewards, such as gratitude and appreciation see more information on our website.
More on using Appreciative Inquiry and other positive psychology techniques at work can be found in Sarah’s book Positive Psychology at Work.
See more about Positive Organisational Culture in the Knowledge Warehouse.
Appreciating Change Can Help
Appreciating Change is skilled and experienced at supporting leaders in working in this challenging, exciting and productive way with their organizations. Find out more by looking at how we help with Leadership, Culture change and with employee Engagement.
For further information on these alternative approaches to change, please contact us or phone 07973 782 715