A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected. Appreciation is one of life’s greatest motivators, so when we take the time to let people know that we value them, it inspires them to continue doing even more. That is precisely why gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving.
Francis Flynn, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford, writes:
“Individuals often withhold help because they are uncertain about whether beneficiaries will appreciate their assistance. Expressions of gratitude can signify that a beneficiary values, needs, and accepts one’s assistance. Previous research has shown that grateful feelings enable people to savor positive experiences, cope with stress, and strengthen social relationships. A disposition toward gratitude is also associated with higher levels of subjective well-being, demonstrating that counting one’s blessings can increase positive emotions and health.”
He goes on to share that in a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers Adam Grant and Francesca Gino ran four experiments designed to look at how being thanked played into feelings of personal competence and the perception of being valued.
In each of the four experiments, they tested having someone thank another person for their involvement, then studied the resulting behavior of the person who received the thanks. Each participant was measured on how effective they felt they were at the task as well as how valued they felt. The results were very telling:
The findings suggest that when helpers are thanked for their efforts, the resulting sense of being socially valued is critical in encouraging them to provide more help in the future. Gratitude expressions spill over onto other beneficiaries as well, suggesting that one can spark a chain of prosocial behavior with a simple thank-you. Overall, the research affirms our general intuition––that giving thanks can have important implications for encouraging actions that promote cooperation. Clearly, a little appreciation goes a long way.
As a boss I found that the most powerful motivator for my employees was a simple note of thanks from their boss. And according to a survey performed by Glassdoor, that wasn’t just true for my employees—it rings true for employees across the board. Their survey found that employees would stay longer at their companies and work much harder in their jobs if they felt more appreciated by their bosses. Clearly, showing appreciation is just smart business!
There is no doubt that when we say the words “thank you,” we make the other person feel important and valued, which raises their self-esteem and helps improve their self-image. In addition, saying “thank you” not only improves their self-esteem, it improves our own self-esteem as well. Each time we say those words to another person, we feel better about ourselves, our attitude improves, and we become more grateful. This phenomenon is often referred to as the law of reciprocity, which says, “If you make me feel good about myself, I will find a way to make you feel good about yourself.” That act of showing appreciation through something as simple as saying “thank you” ignites others to go the extra mile for us, and we in turn become inspired to go the extra mile for them. Thus we see how gratitude truly is the gift that keeps on giving.
~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )