The Transformative Power of Gratitude and Respect

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.

Research by Francesca Gino of the Harvard Business School found that even simple expressions of gratitude can have powerful and long-lasting effects on those who receive them.

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.

People follow the lead of others they respect

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 a survey reported in the November 2013 issue of the Harvard Business Review 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 a Kindle book, 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

In the workplace we can display empathy towards our colleagues by taking an interest in them so they feel a greater sense of belonging. Research in 2019 found that more than 40% of participants in a survey (the group was representative in its age range, genders and ethnicities) felt physically and emotionally isolated in the workplace. 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.

Kim Harrison

Kim J. Harrison has authored, edited, coordinated, produced and published the material in the articles and ebooks on this website. He brings his experience in professional communication and business management to provide helpful insights to readers around the world. As he has progressed through his wide-ranging career, his roles have included corporate affairs management; PR consulting; authoring many articles, books and ebooks; running a university PR course; and business management. Kim has received several international media relations awards and a website award. He has been quoted in The New York Times and various other news media, and has held elected positions with his State and National PR Institutes.

Content Authenticity Statement. AI is not knowingly used in the writing or editing of any content, including images, in these newsletters, articles or ebooks. If AI-produced content is contained in any published form in future, this will be reported to readers.

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Further Reading

Here’s the best way how to tell your boss bad news

Your boss is the most important person in your working life – and having to give the boss bad news is often the worst fear of a professional communicator. In many ways, this is the personal equivalent of confronting a business crisis – because it doesn’t happen...

How best to tell your boss bad news.

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