Some years ago, I went to a marketing conference. In a breakout session on sales, the presenter spoke almost exclusively about gratitude. It didn’t make sense to me. As time went on, however, I began to understand. He laid out a pretty convincing case for the power of gratitude to positively impact our personal and professional lives. I was skeptical, but began incorporating his suggestion of keeping a gratitude journal. It changed my life.
Gratitude is a powerful thing. Practicing it, experts say, decreases our stress levels and improves our physical health. It’s also pretty important for our business health. Gratitude in business increases productivity, makes people better leaders, helps us sell better, and retains customers. It feels good to say thank you, and opens up business conversations with a mindset of service and generosity. What a foundation on which to start discussing “actual” business matters.
November is National Gratitude Month. This year in particular, it feels like it couldn’t come at a better time. Taking a moment to reflect on the good provides a respite from the tumult we feel around us. And there’s a lot of it lately. Here are a few helpful tips for building a culture of gratitude in yourself and in your business:
- Keep a gratitude journal. Try to write at least three to five things that you’re thankful for each day. Don’t worry if there are repetitive items on the list each day; if you’re thankful for it, put it on the list.
- Throughout the day, think about the things you wrote down. Remind yourself of how these things have benefited your life. Pausing in the middle of the day’s madness is revitalizing.
- Practice, practice, practice. Look for opportunities to thank someone for something they did that you appreciate. Pull someone into the conference room and tell them why you appreciate them. Surprise them with a small gift. Find opportunities to recognize the behind-the-scenes guy. Everyone will feel great.
- Get everyone in on it. Set up a simple system for people to reward and recognize each other. Open team meetings with a time for reflection and ask everyone to voice something they are grateful for. You know that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you do that at Thanksgiving with your family? Aim for that at your business meetings. You’ve come a long way together. Honor that.
It’s not going to be all wine and roses. That’s okay. And it’s okay to think about the things that frustrate you. But every time you do it, try to also think of something that you’re grateful for as well. Spend more time in the positive than the negative.
I can tell you from experience that being intentional about gratitude is not easy at first. But if you persist, it becomes easier over time. There are even apps on your phone that can help you do it. Just try it for a month. It couldn’t hurt, right? Eventually, you will find yourself being grateful without even trying, and you will notice a positive difference in your personal and professional life.