1+3 Ideas on How to Create a Culture of Gratitude

September 23, 2019

Showing gratitude has plenty of benefits for individuals as well as teams and businesses. It can reduce stress, improve social relationships, and make everyone a bit happier every day. These are reasons enough to make showing gratitude a natural part of your team or company culture. Whether you are a business owner, team leader, or a member of a team that could do with a bit more of gratitude, you might wonder how to create such a culture? I've listed some ideas for you that you can try today.

Start with yourself — Learn to focus on gratitude

One of the best ways to nurture gratitude in the workplace is by expressing appreciation and gratitude toward others yourself. When did you last express gratitude openly to someone? If it doesn't come naturally to you, you can start by keeping a journal of gratitude.

Do this. Write down once a week or once a day at least three things that made you feel gratitude. The things can be big or small, but if they meant something to you, add them to your list. Who made you feel gratitude, what did they do, and why did you feel grateful for it? Keep doing this at least a few weeks, and you'll start noticing and paying more attention to the moments of gratitude in your daily life.

Read from our blog how showing gratitude affects us.

The next step is to express gratitude. If you meet someone that has made you feel grateful, tell them. Or send them a thank you message. Being helpful, doing a good job, or being nice to you and brightening your day deserves a thank you. Make sure to tell them why you are thanking them!

In the workplace, showing gratitude and appreciation for other’s work can boost their mood and even wellbeing in at least two ways. First of all, It feels great to receive thanks. A genuine thank you can also be considered a form of feedback or recognition, which both are crucial for wellbeing at work.

Lay the groundwork for gratitude

Now that you're comfortable with showing gratitude yourself, you can start nurturing it within teams. Try the following three ideas to get started.

1. Lead by example

When you interact with team members, you can "model gratitude" by routinely expressing it yourself in a genuine way. Show that showing gratitude is OK. Don’t make it a number, do it naturally in your daily interactions.

If you start showing more gratitude openly, it becomes normal behavior in your team. Others will have an easier time expressing gratitude too.

2. Encourage expressing gratitude

You can start pointing out or identifying opportunities for gratitude by asking questions in a team setting. When you spot an opportunity for gratitude, you can simply ask, “Did you enjoy working with Sandra on that problem?”, “Did you find it helpful that Tim had prepared the meeting so well?”, “Did you let them know that?”

By asking these kinds of questions, you’re drawing attention to the good that people could feel grateful for. This practice both helps in recognizing the opportunities to show appreciation and also creates the space to express it.

3. Make showing gratitude a practice

Perhaps the easiest way to start showing more gratitude is to embed it in your existing daily or weekly practices. If your team holds regular meetings, why not include a round of gratitude in them? If you practice some agile methodologies, you could do it even in sprint retrospectives.

Some teams have a habit of giving out ‘props’ to team mates. It can be as simple as giving each team member a chance to state who helped them succeed this week and how. And again, do the round yourself too, genuinely. It may take a few rounds to break the ice.

If your team uses Slack or some other communication tool with channels, you can also create a new channel for giving out those 'props'. This is a good idea especially in remote or distributed teams where you might not have regular meetings face-to-face.

Positive changes can take time

Showing gratitude is not always easy if the social norms or atmosphere in your workplace don't support it. But remember that you're now changing those norms. It might take some time.

Some might feel that showing gratitude is a sign of weakness when it actually takes more courage in these kinds of situations. Keep in mind that you're not giving away anything when you thank someone. You're actually making yourself and the person receiving your appreciation stronger.

Changing a company culture or a team culture is never fast and you shouldn't rush it. You can start nurturing gratitude without asking for permission by practicing it yourself. Build on that and you have a good chance of making a positive impact.

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