Sunday 19 November 2017

'Thank you Lord, for another day' - Don't be the 'Miss Grumpy' in the workplace

'What can you learn from listening to another’s perspective before offering your own position? Possibly a lot.' (stock image)
'What can you learn from listening to another’s perspective before offering your own position? Possibly a lot.' (stock image)

Gina London

'I wake up every morning and say, 'Thank you Lord, for another day. This one is going to be better than the last one.'"

That inspiration came from one of my favourite Cork taxi drivers, Joe, as we journeyed together early Wednesday morning from my home to the train station to begin shooting the first of my new video series.

Joe's grateful words provide the perfect opening for this week's column: the importance of gratitude at work.

When I worked at my first local TV station in Washington, DC, I remember a gal in the newsroom everyone referred to (behind her back, of course) as "Miss Grumpy".

She earned her top-secret moniker because when you talked with her, she seemed compelled to tell you about something aching, annoying or frustrating. Her chronic complaining negatively affected not only her personal reputation with us, her peers, but also her professional opportunities with management. When she was passed over for a promotion, she loudly complained about that.

I figured she would never learn.

Yet, some 20 years later, when I ran across her again, I was surprised to discover she had made it up the station ladder to become a department head. Was it simply longevity? That she'd outlasted many of us who'd moved on? No, she said. She attributed her success to her decision to actively demonstrate and promote gratitude.

Not only was she now a department director, she had also recently launched a gratitude network as a side-gig, connecting professionals from all over the nation's capital.

Magazine articles touted her achievements. The young "Miss Grumpy" I remembered had made a complete 180-degree turn. "I now have a desire to experience a new day, full of endless possibilities," she said. "Once you figure out what motivates you, you can't stop."

A Gallup survey this year revealed a whopping 87pc of employees worldwide are not engaged at work.

As we all know, where there are non-engaged workers, there's also likely groaning, grumbling and gossiping. Maybe that's because similar research found employees saying they feel unlikely to experience or express gratitude at work more than anywhere else.

Studies show expressing and receiving gratitude at work makes us feel more motivated, cooperative and effective.

Here are this week's tips:

1 Start with yourself

If you're a complainer, it's time to change. Your colleagues figure you are probably negative about them too and, frankly, you're likely considered less productive. Don't undermine yourself.

Bite your tongue on your latest ache or pain the next time someone greets you with, "How's it going?" Instead, look at them and pronounce, "Great!" Or, since we're here in Ireland, try a more realistic, "Grand" or "Not too bad". Smile when you say it.

2 Look to the top

Needless to say, corporate culture starts at the top. So, while it's easy for me to encourage all of us working stiffs to toe the line on our own gratitude, I better make sure to urge you supervisors, managers and especially chief executives out there to get with it too.

No, I'm not going to take this obvious opportunity to make an example out of Donald Trump. I'll just simply remind us all that demonstrating real appreciation will go a long way toward improving morale throughout any organisation.

3 Structure occasions to share gratitude

Growing up, my extended family would gather at my Aunt Neatie's house in South Bend, Indiana, for Thanksgiving dinner.

Before we dug in to that enormous annual spread, she would ask each of us at the table to say one thing we were thankful for.

Although we'd initially roll our eyes at this request - especially when my cousins and I were in our teens - we ultimately all enjoyed hearing what the others shared.

Likewise, imagine if you kicked off your next monthly meeting by asking everyone to name one thing they're grateful for. Sure, you may get push-back at first. But see what happens at the end.

4 Be specific

Which would mean more to you? Being part of a blast email that was sent to your entire department, generically thanking everyone who worked on a project - or receiving a customised email of appreciation uniquely sent to you?

What about receiving an old-fashioned thank-you card instead of an email? Thoughtful, individual expressions of gratitude feel more meaningful and authentic.

5 Be sincere

Before you thank a work colleague for something, please first take a moment to reflect. Visualise what you're going to say to whom and why.

You may even want to practice aloud beforehand. This moment can make the difference between being perceived as genuine or as someone who is only going through the motions.

Managers should certainly strive to create and encourage a culture of gratitude and development in the workplace. But, even if you're not in management, you can take active steps for yourself just like my former colleague in Washington and my taxi friend in Cork.

How have you adjusted your attitude or helped develop a determined sense of gratitude? Tell it to The Communicator! Write to Gina in care of SundayBusiness@independent.ie

Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon

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