This is Entrepreneurs of Faith, a Sunday episode of Monetization Nation. I’m Nathan Gwilliam, your host. In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss the power of gratitude in business.
Feeling Disconnected from God
When I was in high school, there was a time when I felt disconnected from God and was not feeling Him near. At night time, I would read scriptures sitting by the light in our hallway. One night, as I was trying to understand this lack of God’s presence in my life, and what I needed to do, I opened my scriptures randomly, and they fell open to this verse:
“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (KJV 1 Thessalonians 5:18)
That scripture gave me the answer I was seeking. I knew that I needed to fill my life with more gratitude to find the connection with God and others in my life that I was missing. I tried to heed that counsel and found deeper connections. For example, instead of filling my prayers primarily with requests, I incorporated a lot more specific expressions of gratitude. I even dedicated some prayers to only expressions of gratitude. I have also tried to express a lot more gratitude to the people around me.
Tough Circumstances and Gratitude
A church leader named Dieter Uchtdorf gave a sermon about gratitude. In his sermon, he described the opportunity he’s had to meet with many people whose sorrows seem to reach the very depths of their souls. “In these moments,” he said, “I have listened to my beloved brothers and sisters and grieved with them over their burdens. I have pondered what to say to them, and I have struggled to know how to comfort and support them in their trials.”
“Sooner or later,” Uchtdorf continued, “I believe that all of us experience times when the very fabric of our world tears at the seams, leaving us feeling alone, frustrated, and adrift. It can happen to anyone. No one is immune.”
He goes on to describe how “there is something that would take away the bitterness that may come into our lives. There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, even glorious. We can be grateful!”
“Those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding,” he said.
I think the reason this is true is when we want to get rid of negativity in our lives, the best way to do it is to replace it with something positive. It’s like a room filled with darkness we want to go away. The only way to make the darkness leave is to fill the room with something else . . . light. I have found that when I have negative feelings towards someone when I strive to replace those feelings with gratitude, the gratitude can help replace the negative feelings, and I feel more positively towards that person.
Gratitude in Business
It is well-known that gratitude can help us have a better attitude in our personal lives, but how does this apply to us as entrepreneurs?
Gratitude is a critical aspect of our business relationships. “It satisfies the higher psychological need to feel a sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves–to feel a sense of meaning at work.” (Source: Forbes)
Recognizing the good and saying it out loud “helps [us] connect with other entrepreneurs and build lasting partnerships. No [one] is an island, and the same goes for business owners too. Correspondingly, success is most easily achieved when we back up each other.” (Source: Enterprise League)
I believe gratitude in the workplace is critical for many reasons. Here are 7 examples:
1. It helps us build stronger relationships with our co-workers.
2. Most of us deal with insecurities and fears that we are not good enough. Expressing gratitude is an affirmation that in that thing, they are good enough.
3. Expressing gratitude gives a positive reference point of the actions and behaviors that work, so people know how to act, and what to do more of.
4. Showing gratitude can shift the focus from us to others.
5. Expressing gratitude can show our co-workers that we saw what they did.
6. Focusing on the great things people have done, instead of the mistakes, is showing grace. When we show grace to others, we will probably receive more grace in return.
7. Expressions of gratitude can show that we care about the feelings of our co-workers.
Uchtdorf shared a story of a server and a customer. He said, “There is an old story of a waiter who asked a customer whether he had enjoyed the meal. The guest replied that everything was fine, but it would have been better if they had served more bread. The next day, when the man returned, the waiter doubled the amount of bread, giving him four slices instead of two, but still, the man was not happy. The next day, the waiter doubled the bread again, without success.”
“On the fourth day, the waiter was really determined to make the man happy. And so he took a nine-foot-long loaf of bread, cut it in half, and with a smile, served that to the customer. The waiter could scarcely wait for the man’s reaction.”
“After the meal, the man looked up and said, ‘Good as always. But I see you’re back to giving only two slices of bread.’”
In this story, there is a disconnect between the customer and the server, and this disconnect comes from the customer’s lack of gratitude. Because of this, the server felt unappreciated even though he was doing everything he could to make this customer happy.
This isn’t to say we should stop doing things for customers that don’t seem grateful. We need to make sure that we aren’t the customer in this example. We should be expressing gratitude to our families, partners, employees, clients, vendors, and customers, so they know how much we appreciate them and their efforts.
Ways We Can Show Gratitude
Results of research in the workplace so far link it to more positive emotions, less stress and fewer health complaints, a greater sense that we can achieve our goals, fewer sick days, and higher satisfaction with our jobs and our coworkers (Source: greatergood.berkeley.edu). Here are a few ideas and stories for how we can show gratitude in our business relationships.
Steven Benson, founder, and CEO of Badger Maps says his favorite thing about the company’s culture is that they show thanks to employees on a weekly basis. “We have an all-hands meeting once a week, and we finish the meeting by ‘giving props’, which is recognizing people on the team for their accomplishments that week. Anyone on the team can give props to anyone else on the team, which fosters an atmosphere of appreciation and teamwork.” (Source: Medium)
“For example,” Benson explained, “someone who noticed another employee doing a great job with a particularly difficult customer, might ‘give props’ to that person and recognize them in front of the group as having done an amazing job. It’s a great way to be thankful and show appreciation as a group for all the accomplishments of the week, and make sure everyone gets recognized for their contributions.” (Source: Medium)
“This has helped us build a strong team and sense of community. The success of your business depends on your employees, and establishing a positive culture where everyone feels appreciated and enjoys coming to work makes a big difference in increasing employee satisfaction and happiness.” (Source: Medium)
I love how the Gladney Center for Adoption does this and reserves time in nearly every full-company meeting for people to express gratitude through a shout-out for something another team member has done.
Gratitude with Customers
Dr. Justin Wood, a business problem-solving specialist, shared how gratitude saved a restaurant with low chances of survival from closing down. He “was put in charge of a small breakfast team, which was one step away from being shut down. . . . It was a tough game, as the team wasn’t bringing much profit to the restaurant, and people’s jobs were at stake.” (Source: Intelligent Change)
The first thing Wood changed was customer appreciation. “He instructed the team to express gratitude and appreciation to every customer because the key to a profitable restaurant is satisfied and returning customers.” (Source: Intelligent Change)
At the end of the first month “, they doubled the number of receipts from the previous month. By the end of the three-month period, they were setting continual records. It took so little: a ‘thank you for coming,’ a smile, and a regular check-up, and people immediately felt more appreciated as customers.” (Source: Intelligent Change)
Gratitude and Appreciation Retreat
Consultant Stephanie Pollack was brought in to work with the state chapter of a national nonprofit. “The organization was in the middle of a transformation that brought in new leadership, a new culture, new rules—and lots of tension and uncertainty.” Pollack was tasked with teaching appreciation and gratitude during a three-day retreat (Source: greatergood.berkeley.edu).
“She taught a small group of reluctant employees about the benefits of recognizing the good things in their lives and saying thank you.” Something shifted among the employees. “After one person wrote a genuine note of thanks on an ‘appreciation wall,’ soon everyone was participating.” (Source: greatergood.berkeley.edu)
Pollack was surprised by the connection and authenticity that appreciation inspired. Even some of the more closed-off employees had opened up by the end of the retreat. “They walked in with a lot of tension and frustration,” Pollack said. “I’m not saying they walked out with none, but there was a willingness on everyone’s part to move forward together in a different way.” (Source: greatergood.berkeley.edu)
These are just a few of the ways we can implement gratitude into our business, but it could be as simple as a “thank you” at the end of an email or note reminding an employee that we appreciate them. William James, American philosopher and psychologist said, “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” If appreciation is one of our deepest cravings, then we need to make sure we are showing our appreciation to others.
Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
1. Those who are grateful can find healing, peace, connection, and understanding.
2. Gratitude can help us replace negative feelings with positive feelings.
3. Gratitude is a critical part of the business. It helps us build stronger relationships.
4. In the workplace, gratitude can foster more positive emotions, less stress and fewer health complaints, a greater sense that we can achieve our goals, fewer sick days, and higher satisfaction with our jobs and our coworkers.
5. Focusing on the great things people have done, instead of the mistakes, is showing grace.
6. We can express gratitude by ‘giving props’ to our employees in meetings, telling customers we appreciate them, going on a gratitude retreat, or simply saying thank you in an email or note.
7. Expressing sincere gratitude to customers may increase revenues.
8. The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.
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