Be grateful; grow your relationships, your organisation and yourself

By Dan Hartman

Last week a colleague helped me win the business of a new customer, so I sent her a short email:

Thanks again for taking the time out of your day to discuss our Handyman product with me. I had a second meeting with [xxx] today and was able to give much more clarity on our benefits vs traditional handyman services. They’ve signed with us, and without your help I think that might not have been the case 🙂

She was pleased to receive my message, and I felt good about sending it. Showing somebody you are grateful for what they have done for you reminds them of the benefits of their actions. They are then more likely to repeat the behaviour. Soon, a culture of gratitude grows in the organisation as positive behaviour is reinforced and repeated. This is a very powerful thing indeed.

Gratitude is one of the highest ROI business tools – and indeed life tools – that one can possibly have. And the best part is, everyone can use it. It costs no money, takes almost no time, gives instant payback, and benefits both giver and receiver. It empowers people, gives them confidence, and makes them happy. All it requires is a little thoughtfulness and courage on the part of the giver.

My organisation’s mission is ‘Making Offices Happy’. Expressing gratitude has big payoffs for us. Individual employees of the company have been made happier. The company as a whole will be happier as this behaviour spreads. Most importantly, our customers will be happier as they are served by a more collaborative organisation who are willing to go the extra mile for each other – and by extension, their customers.

Author Naomi Williams wrote, ‘It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment’. When you are grateful for something, it benefits you, even before you’ve told anyone you’re grateful. Being conscious of your own gratitude is a great way to feel good about yourself and your life, and allows you to focus on the things that truly matter to you.

A display of gratitude will resonate more by being personalised. You can personalise it by referencing specific sacrifices the other party has made, as well as highlighting how their actions led to a good outcome.

You can take personalisation one step further by giving a hand-written thank you note. Nothing could be more personal than receiving a note in someone’s own handwriting, and the note serves as a nice reminder of how the person has helped you.

I did so recently. A week later, the note is still on my colleague’s desk, serving as a reminder of how his generous actions can benefit others. You don’t need to include a gift (although this one was shared with me so I think it was well worth the investment!).

I sent a similar note to one of our sales directors to thank him for the help he gave me even though he directs a completely different section. He grinned from ear to ear. Not only did I feel great for brightening someone’s day, but I could see the possible effect on the organisation. A few people saw the note, and they might be inspired to help somebody else out, and to express their gratitude to a colleague who went the extra mile. The director’s reaction showed that he felt good about being acknowledged for helping me. He may be even more willing to share his knowledge and wisdom with the rest of the company in future.

A colleague recently shared a story where a business mentor of his provided some useful advice over a lunch meeting. Although the traditional ‘thank you’ was given when they parted ways, he followed up with an email two days later thanking him again, along with referencing specific applications of the advice. By removing the ‘thank you’ from its traditional, almost obligatory context immediately after the advice took place, my colleague was able to show that the advice had a lasting effect and real positive impact, and thus made the mentor feel more valued.

Consider what a display of gratitude could do for you and your coworkers, your company, and your customers. Find an opportunity in the next week to thank someone, and watch the happiness and goodwill spread.

Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it. — Ralph Marston

This article first appeared at LinkedIn.