Character, Gratitude, and Performance

What happens when you let someone in on the secret of your gratitude?

The senior leadership team of the hospital had invited me to participate in a one day retreat.  The CEO and his team were getting away from the hospital for time to re-group.

Yes, there was a bit of tension.  I was invited to facilitate a leadership development session. Trust had become an issue. On top of that, the economy was starting to add pressure to an already intense sector.

What’s grating on you?

The question we began to explore was this “How does gratitude impact work relationships?” 

Before I posed the question we did a quick exercise around “gratefulness”. One of the words found in gratefulness is “grate”.

“Grate” presents a powerful image.

What happens when you grate a carrot, a round of cheese, or a potato?

That’s right, it’s reduced to fragments when rubbed against an abrasive surface. 

What happens when someone annoys or persistently irritates you by his/her behavior?  

Can you think of someone that “grates on you”?  How about something that “grates on you”?  What behavior really grates on you?

What do you find irritating?

Is it when someone takes a cell phone call during a meeting? Have you ever had some clip their fingernails during your meeting?  And then, there’s that person who drives the speed limit!

The list could go on and on which might irritate you, so I’ll stop.

Grease for the Relationship Connections

Here’s a picture of gears at work.

Photo by WWarby

To help the machinery run smoothly and limit friction grease would be applied.

When it comes to life I suggest gratitude is the grease of life, especially when it comes to our people connections. 

Be prepared for performance improvement when gratitiude and appreciation is demonstrated.

What happens when you receive an expression of appreciation? What happens when you express your appreciation for others?

More than a holiday

Gratefulness or the giving of thanks is obviously not only about an annual holiday. 

We’re talking a character quality of successful, healthy people.

A large body of recent work has suggested that people who are more grateful have higher levels of well-being. Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships. Grateful people also have higher levels of control of their environments, personal growth, purpose in life, and self acceptance. Grateful people have more positive ways of coping with the difficulties they experience in life, being more likely to seek support from other people, reinterpreted and grow from the experience, and spend more time planning how to deal with the problem.  Grateful people also have less negative coping strategies, being less likely to try to avoid the problem, deny there is a problem, blame themselves, or cope through substance use. Grateful people sleep better, and this seems to be because they think less negative and more positive thoughts just before going to sleep.

Who couldn’t use these benefits of gratitude in the face of life’s pressures?

Consider this working definition for gratefulness published by CharacterFirst!

Letting others know by my words and actions how they have benefited my life.

How hard is it, really?

The grease of gratitude is applied to our relationships with three easy steps:

  1. Focus on others
  2. Communicate with words and actions
  3. Be specific

Go ahead, try this…

  • Who is frustrating you?
  • What one thing can you be grateful for regarding that person?
  • What is frustrating you these days?
  • Make a list of 15 things you are thankful for…

The morning of the leadership development retreat, I allowed their team 5 minutes for the “Thankful-4-U” exercise.  An interesting thing happened with those 9 leaders: the CEO requested more time for the exercise, “We haven’t got to connect with everyone.”

When we debriefed they acknowledged it was a bit awkward, but rewarding. They were encouraged, found the giving and receiving helpful, meaningful, valuable, and nice to hear.  It was so beneficial they wondered why they didn’t do it more.

So simple. So valuable. Easy on the budget, too!

Who do you want to express your gratitude to?

I’m thankful for you, my reader-friend…knowing you are out there, keeps me writing and growing.

What if you forward this to a friend?

What if you make a call or write a note or stop by their office today…?

What if you post a comment and engage in the conversation?  I’d love to hear your voice.

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This entry was posted on Monday, November 22, 2010 at 11:30 pm and is filed under Motivation, Performance Improvement. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.