Adopt an “it’s the thought that counts” attitude. Consider this scenario: A new VP at a hospital wants to do something special for her hardworking, overworked staff. It’s decided that pizza will be provided for the entire hospital staff, rolling out over a Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday to ensure that every person on every shift can take a pizza break. The pizza plan goes into effect and the VP, who arranged everything, walks around the departments, expecting to be welcomed with open arms by an appreciative staff. Instead she finds that many of the teams taking care of patients are upset because they can’t leave their patients to go down to the cafeteria where the pizzas are located. Meanwhile they complain, the business office and IT staffs are able to go to the cafeteria as they please.
“Sometimes you have to take into account the intentions of your boss or your coworkers. If it is clear that they meant for something to be a way of thanking you or helping you, don’t complain about how they missed the mark. Thank them for thinking of you and move on.”
Communicate openly and honestly. If it’s gratitude you need, tell someone. Often your leaders or coworkers can be so tied up in their own tasks that they forget about those working around them. The natural reaction when this happens is to either hold in your negative feelings or complain to another coworker. But a more proactive stance might be to opt for open and honest communication.
Be prepared for some kind words. If you are unaccustomed to getting compliments, it may take some time for you to feel comfortable receiving them. Just practice and be prepared for some kind words.
Thank those you serve. Once you have mastered the gratitude thing with your bosses and your coworkers, you need to move on to the people you serve. “When I first told my staff that we ought to be thanking our patients, one of them replied, ‘What are we supposed to say? Thank you for breaking your leg?’” relates Jazwiec. “Obviously not. I suggested they say, ‘Thank you for putting your trust in us today.’ Regardless of your line of work, there is no better time to start showing your customers you appreciate them than in a slow economy.
Know that gratitude encourages repeat performances. Leaders, remember the behavior you recognize will be repeated. If you think an employee handled a disgruntled customer well or showed great proficiency in managing a group project, let him or her know about it and they’ll work hard to do the same, or even better, next time. And employees, if you acknowledge your boss’s efforts to show gratitude, they will keep doing it. Thank your boss for going to bat for you and your coworkers over a new piece of equipment you need or a pay raise dispute, and he or she will be more likely to do it again in the future.