Infographic: The Power of Gratitude

Based on an article published in El Comercio newspaper (Peru) on March 17, 2015

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Sending a thank you email, for example, for a meeting with contacts, is a common practice in many countries. Some of us, however, simply do not call or send a message the following day to thank someone for an invitation (to dinner or lunch), including to friends or family. Showing our gratitude for what we have received –beyond a dry “thanks”– can be an uncommon gesture among some of us.

I have always been intrigued by the absence of this habit. Could it be that we feel that by thanking those to whom we “owe” gratitude we lose power or that they see us as weaker? Could it be that we do not like “owing” anybody anything? If we give thanks, will we have to return the favor? Maybe we do not say thank you more often because deep down we feel that we deserve –or are entitled to– the kindness or courtesy received. Is it that we lack the generosity to show respect or gratitude towards someone who does something for us or for the common good? Or is it a sign of pure and simple insecurity? 

The fact is that giving thanks has to do with good manners and politeness. Even school children are taught to send correctly written thank you notes. But, some of us just do not have the good habit of acknowledging and thanking people for the courtesies or favors received from them.

Imagine this situation: you host a dinner party at home for your friends.

You make an effort for them to have a good time and are thrilled to share what you have prepared for them. Doesn’t it feel great when your friends call you the next day to tell you how happy they were, how much they enjoyed the meal, the ambience, and the company, and, above all, how much they appreciate the effort and affection you put into inviting and hosting them! That call fills your soul, doesn’t it?

It is the same at work. When we are thanked for a job well done, we feel valued and recognized. We receive that very necessary emotional salary, especially if the recognition is timely, personal, and given in the right measure. Appreciation and recognition, though they are so important and necessary, are very scarce in the work environment. For example, 79 percent of talent resigns due to lack of recognition (the second reason is lack of growth opportunities).

So, what could we thank more or better? Favors we ask, advice we receive, information we are given, time spent on us, meetings we request, thoughtful gestures towards us. And how do we express our thanks appropriately? Depending on the situation and the relationship, it can be with a timely call, an appreciative email, a handwritten note for more significant occasions, a small gesture, sometimes a smile, or a sincere sign of friendship is enough. However, it is important that we always do so in a timely, sincere, and genuine manner, not merely to conform to a formality.

Taking the time to thank, appreciate, and acknowledge what others do for us –at work and in our personal life– is a very clear and positive way of demonstrating our respect and appreciation. Thanking others makes both sides feel great and always strengthens a relationship. That is the true power of gratitude!