My son moved over to the USA this year and obviously embraced the norms and celebrated the new holidays with enthusiasm, Halloween and Thanksgiving being the most recent. I suppose like all holidays they can mean different things to different people, and can be fully enjoyed by some, taken for granted, or even abused by others. We are all aware how retailers “milk” every occasion for a new gimmicky sale or reason to flood the market with advertising to separate us from our hard earned income. The Thanksgiving holiday got me thinking – do we acknowledge people enough? I feel that we are natural complainers and sometimes have unreasonable expectations of others. When we complain we do it with such effort and emotion that it leaves me to ask the question, do we do the same with appreciation and gratitude?
In today’s Connection Economy businesses are encourages to be more human, act with generosity and see people for who they are and what they do, but this is often not the case. We get too busy and wrapped up in targets and bottom lines to take time to appreciate others. William Arthur Ward is quoted to have said, “feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a gift and not giving it.” Similarly, Benjamin Franklin said, “most people return small favours, acknowledge medium ones and repay greater ones – with ingratitude”
I think gratitude needs to work both ways. By expressing gratitude to your customers and employees, as this will result in them returning the gratitude, to both the business and the employer respectively.
But what is appropriate gratitude in this context? Gratitude means thankfulness, noticing simple pleasures and acknowledging everything you receive. This can be translated into learning to live your life being continuously aware of the goodness and well being of those around you, in the business world, it translates to:
Verbal Gratitude: Too often we see the fake sales pitch greeting, which is forced and more like a beauty queen’s smile. Instead, improve on small, authentic features like:
- Greeting clients and customers or people serving you.
- Should they have a name tag on – use their name, make it personal.
- Saying thank you – for service, work well done, a deadline met, extra effort made
Written Gratitude – this often takes more time and effort but is always so well received. Some times the only written apperception or feedback we get in the business world are the annual reviews, which are so formal. Yet how refreshing and motivating is it to receive spontaneous specific thanks.
- As a customer, write to companies that have given you good service, name specific staff if possible.
- As an employer, send someone a note when extra effort has been made to achieve a company goal. Acknowledge partners and spouses if you have asked a lot from your employees, taking them away from home excessively.
- Acknowledging businesses or individuals contributions, often results in retaining that business or service.
Action Gratitude: This can be a carrot to motivate staff or customers upfront or spontaneously show appreciation for what they have done.
- Set up non-cash incentive, the if you sell….if you buy….if you achieve….type of motivation for a reward.
- Casual appreciation, as small as noticing effort, and allowing that staff person to leave early the following day, can be considered a form of action gratitude.
- Walking around your business, handing out mince pies at Christmas, packets of seeds in a garden department to loyal customers or employees.
- Offer an extra service to your customers in your store such as, free demonstrations explaining products, mixing and sampling new drinks, making innovative decorations, how to use appliances to their full potential.
Too often we take things for granted, yet an appreciation of others and what they do for us personally and in our business, can profoundly grow our staff, colleagues, customers and personal moral. Thereby resulting in better people and better business.
The best part is that in most cases, gratitude is simple, free and available daily – make a difference to someone today, and say THANK YOU.