How to use gratitude to motivate people and get results

The inevitable end-of-year slump is officially here: people are pushing through the last few days before they hit the beach, bush, or berg, and every second that stands between them and that final destination is agonising. This is perhaps the most difficult time to stay motivated, and to inspire others to do the same. There is one tool in your arsenal that you may not have thought to use, though: gratitude.

Holiday cheer may seem to abound in malls and commercial districts, but how many offices can say that their employee morale and motivation are at a peak? Be honest: When was the last time you really thanked a person for all they had supported you with – over the last week, month, or even the entire year? With the current economic situation being what it is, bonuses may have been forfeited. This does not mean to say, though, that this is the only way to thank a person, or team, for all the hours and effort they have put in. You don’t need an extravagant office party, or expensive gifts either. In fact, throwing a massive party or hosting team lunches at an upmarket restaurant when you have told your employees that the company will not be paying bonuses may be a bright red flag.

You can thank people for their contributions both meaningfully and genuinely by doing the following:

  • The simple things count. The best gifts you can give are your time and your empathy. Show someone that you have truly listened by doing something like buying them a (tastefully) humorous or witty token that can be an inside joke, and which will remind them of the relationship you have when they look at it, or when someone else asks about what it means.
  • The personal touch is the sincerest one there is. Flowers, an eye-catching notebook, or a calendar bought from a favourite charity or non-profit organisation show that you have taken the time to get to know someone.
  • Thank you cards are appreciated. Sometimes the simplest and most effective way to thank someone is a handwritten card. This is an inexpensive and thoughtful means to let them know that you are grateful. Just ensure that your message is earnest, well-thought-out, and not generic.
  • Be respectful and considerate in your choices. If you are thinking about presenting someone with a gift, or making some sort of public gesture to thank them, be respectful and understanding by considering their personality. This is a good way to show them that you have reflected on what they would want.

Expressing your appreciation is one of the best ways to foster and maintain relationships, as well as to encourage people to perform to the best of their ability. Saying “thank you”, and meaning it, is a powerful motivator in a world where people can feel alone, ignored, and unappreciated. Don’t underestimate it.

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