When we go to a restaurant, it’s easy for us to ask for exactly what we want. Make sure the steak is medium rare. Leave pickles off the burger. Go light on the balsamic dressing on the salad. Put two olives in the martini, not three.
But for some reason, it’s hard for us to ask for the things we need for our emotional well-being — like asking those in our lives to thank us for doing the things we do.
That’s according to Laura Trice, a doctor who works with those suffering from addiction. In 2008, Laura Trice gave a timeless TED Talk that very simply explained why saying thank you is something we can all afford to do a little more frequently.
For example, when we work really hard on something and don’t receive any positive feedback in return, it can be disheartening, to say the least. Still, it’s not as if we’re going to march into our boss’ office and beg for them to heap praises on us.
Why don’t we ask for those in our lives to compliment us in specific ways?
“It’s because I’m giving you critical data about me. I’m telling you where I’m insecure. I’m telling you where I need your help,” Trice says in her TED Talk. “And I’m treating you, my inner circle, like you’re the enemy. Because what can you do with that data? You could neglect me. You could abuse it. Or you could actually meet my need.”
It’s important to understand that those in our lives have the same needs as us — they want to feel valued and appreciated too — and that they’re unlikely to ask for compliments in specific ways, and Trice argues that it’s up to us to be the change we want to see. By taking a proactive approach and thanking those in our lives for their contributions, we can start a cycle where more and more thank-yous are given.
Get into the habit of saying thank you to your employees and peers, and your organization will benefit from:
- Happier employees: There’s no shortage of research correlating recognition with happiness. One recent study found that saying thank you for even ordinary help can improve motivation, validate efforts, and positively reinforce behaviors.
- Healthier employees: Research also suggests that gratitude is correlated to health. So the more thank-yous you give out, the healthier and less stressed your staff will be. As a result, your organization will benefit from reduced absenteeism and your team will have the energy they need to produce at their full potential.
- Stronger relationships: The number one thing employees like about their jobs is the people they work with, as noted in our Engagement Report. When you recognize your employees’ hard work — and your employees recognize their colleagues’ efforts as well — the team grows closer together. Stronger bonds result in a better culture and more engagement, a win-win all around.
Since everyone you work with is looking for a least some recognition — and saying thank you is a simple task that practically requires no effort — there’s really no excuse to forget to acknowledge a colleague’s hard work or helping hand. So what are you waiting for? Thank someone today!
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