Gratitude at Work

Why it’s so rare—and powerful—to say thanks

When is the last time you heard (or offered) sincere gratitude at work? Research suggests that people are less likely to express gratitude at work than anywhere else. This is true despite the fact that offering thanks to colleagues and employees has been shown to significantly boost job satisfaction and performance, both for the person expressing gratitude and for the one receiving it.

When I receive thanks from colleagues for the work I'm doing, I feel encouraged and inspired to keep working hard. I can't even begin to tell you how much expressions of gratitude mean to me and keep me energized for the work God has prepared me to do with 4word.

For a Christian, expressing gratitude to others is a natural extension of our gratitude to God. As Bill Peel points out in an article for the Center for Faith & Work, this kind of mindset falls right in line with Paul's "exhortations to render humble service in the workplace (Ephesians 6:5–9; Colossians 3:22–4:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:11–12)." Moreover, it's a terrific way to share Christ's love with your colleagues.

The problem with gratitude

It can feel strange—even unprofessional—to be so vulnerable with a colleague.

So why aren't people doing it? I tend to think that it comes down to emotions. Showing real gratitude to another person takes more than just the words thank you. It requires you to really see another person, to connect with him or her, and to acknowledge not just your colleague's accomplishments but him or her as a person. That makes expressing gratitude an emotional act requiring a certain amount of vulnerability on your part.

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Diane Paddison

Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.

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May 25

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