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Your gratitude wins trust and respect from others

01 Jun, 2020 Workplace relationships

Your gratitude wins trust and respect from others. By respecting other individuals, you gain their trust and respect in return. Not only does your attitude lift them, but it also lifts you.Your respect can be shown in various ways. You can actively listen to others, you can thank people for their work at a personal level, you can recognize their work at an organizational level, you can be polite to others, and you can model good behavior as an example to others. What’s more, people follow the lead of others they respect.

Beneficial effects of gratitude

Feeling grateful to others and appreciating them has several beneficial effects on us individually: gratitude enables us to savor positive experiences, cope with stressful circumstances, be resilient in the face of challenges, and strengthen our social relationships.

Researcher Prof. Francesca Gino wrote an article, “Be grateful more often,” in the Harvard Business Review in 2013, which discussed her previous research with Prof. Adam Grant of the Wharton Business School that found even simple expressions of gratitude can have powerful and long-lasting effects on those who receive them. This reinforced the conclusion that gratitude wins trust and respect from others. Your gratitude wins trust and respect from others. Human attitudes hold over time.

On the other hand, the impact of negative emotions, and especially the feeling of being devalued, is extremely toxic. People want to hear that they matter – it may be the most precious thing in the world to them. According to international research conducted by Willis Towers Watson, the single most important factor in engagement is employees feeling their managers are genuinely interested in their wellbeing. Less than 40% of workers felt so engaged.

But disloyalty breeds disloyalty

What’s more, about half of employees deliberately decrease their effort or lower the quality of their work in response to incivility – and also decrease the time they spend at work. Almost 80% of respondents in Francesca Gino’s article said their commitment to the organization declined as a result of not being respected. In other words, disloyalty breeds disloyalty.

What’s more, about half of employees deliberately decrease their effort or lower the quality of their work in response to incivility – and also decrease the time they spend at work.

It is obvious that respect is worthwhile. But respect is not just the obvious behavior and attitude. It is the more subtle things as well; lack of respect is revealed in the rudeness stemming from thoughtlessness. I can think of the senior manager who sits in meetings reading and sending email on his tablet almost the whole time. Others take phone calls while you are talking with them. Even more don’t want to know about any problems because they are busy enough already. Others talk too much and don’t listen – a common failure among PR people.

So what can we do?

For a start we can actively listen: we can pay attention to what the person is saying. Most of the time people don’t listen to understand; they listen so they have something to say next – usually about themselves. (“Two monologues don’t make a dialogue.”) Our attention is shown in the way we paraphrase some of our conversational partner’s comments back to them. You can confirm your interest: “I think what you are saying is…” or “Do you mean that…” We can follow up on commitments made in such conversations.

We can express appreciation. We can thank them for their efforts. We can initiate employee recognition programs. I believe giving appreciation and being grateful is hugely important. I have even written an ebook, Employee Recognition: helping you to achieve great team performance, about how to give suitable recognition to others for their efforts.

Being appreciated is a fundamental human need. Let’s thank people for their good work regularly and not just wait for anniversaries like birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas to say “thank you” sincerely to others.

What’s more: giving appreciation to others also applies in your personal life with your partner, family and friends.

Help create a sense of belonging at work

We can display empathy towards our work colleagues by taking an interest in them so they feel a greater sense of belonging. In a 2019 Harvard Business Review article, “The surprising power of simply asking coworkers how they’re doing,” author Karyn Twaronite  said research found that more than 40% of participants in a survey felt physically and emotionally isolated in the workplace (the group was representative in its age range, genders and ethnicities). And feedback showed 39% of respondents felt the greatest sense of belonging when their colleagues “seized the small opportunities to connect with them,” both personally and professionally.

Simple questions convey empathy, such as “How are you going with that [project/task],” “Would you like a hand with this?” and “Tell me more about it” go a long way.

Further reading

Chris Hutchinson has written a useful 2021 Medium article, “3 ways to show appreciation for your workplace team,” which could be helpful as well.

About Kim Harrison – author, editor and content curator

Kim Harrison, Founder and Principal of Cutting Edge PR, loves sharing actionable ideas and information about professional communication and business management. He has wide experience as a corporate affairs manager, consultant, author, lecturer, and CEO of a non-profit organization. Kim is a Fellow and former national board member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, and he ran his State’s professional development program for 7 years, helping many practitioners to strengthen their communication skills. People from 115 countries benefit from the practical knowledge shared in his monthly newsletter and in his books available from

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