A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way


An “attitude of gratitude” is just a platitude.

Your attitude of gratitude might make you feel better, and it might make you behave better, but if you really want to have an impact with gratitude, you have to SHOW gratitude.

From a business perspective, the gratitude or appreciation you show can motivate others to be helpful to others (e.g. coworkers, customers).

In Francesca Gino’s recent book, Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We can Stick to the Plan, the author writes about a couple of studies she and another professor conducted on gratitude.

In the first study, fifty-seven students were emailed a job applicant’s cover letter and asked to provide the job applicant feedback (edits and comments on the cover letter).  After the students provided feedback, the experimenter, posing as the job applicant, sent a reply from the alleged job applicant’s email account.  Half of the participants received this neutral reply:

Dear [name],

I just wanted to let you know that I received your feedback on my cover letter.

The other half of the participants received this reply expressing gratitude:

 Dear [name],

I just wanted to let you know that I received your feedback on my cover letter. Thank you so much!  I am really grateful.

The next day, the researcher sent all participants a link to an online survey, which included measures of social worth and whether they thought the job applicant’s email expressed gratitude.  Not surprisingly, not only did the participants feel that the second email expressed more gratitude, but those who received the second email also reported feeling more valued.

Perhaps more surprising were the rates of response to an additional request for help. The day after the students took the survey, the experimenter sent them an email from the account of a different student, in which that student asked for feedback on his cover letter.  Only 25% of the students who had received the neutral note helped the second student, but the percentage more than doubled, to 55% for the participants who had received the reply expressing gratitude.

The desire to be helpful is greatly increased when simple appreciation is expressed.

In another study with fundraisers,  when the annual giving director visited the fundraisers in their office, expressing appreciation, then number of fundraising calls in the week after the visit week increased by more than 50 percent.

A little thanks goes a long way.

How do you show gratitude at work?


About Diane Windingland
I speak for organizations that want their people to have better, more profitable conversations.

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