5 Tips to Express Gratitude at Work

RAFT Team, November 7, 2022

What is the true meaning of gratitude? According to the world’s leading scientific expert, gratitude is an affirmation of goodness. We affirm there are good things in the world, gifts, and benefits we’ve received. Second, we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves, whether from another person or from a higher power. (Robert Emmons) He further describes gratitude as a relationship-strengthening emotion. 

Even more fascinating to the science-minded community, gratitude can be seen in the brain specifically through changing neural activity. To go even deeper into the latest studies on gratitude, check out this whitepaper on the science of gratitude.

What are the 3 types of gratitude?

Some psychologists divide gratitude into three categories:

  • Gratitude as an overall grateful approach to life
  • Gratitude as a mood that ebbs and flows throughout the day
  • Gratitude as an emotion that is a temporary response to something good that happens

All three are important and can be incorporated into your life.

The Danger of Toxic Positivity

Despite all the good things gratitude can bring, faking or forcing gratitude can be harmful. You’ve probably experienced a friend or family member who practices toxic positivity. They approach life with a syrupy sweet, “everything is awesome” presence, no matter how dire a situation. 

What does this overgeneralization of a cheerful disposition at all times accomplish? These people deny, minimize, or at worst invalidate, authentic sadness, grief, and a wide berth of other emotions. We cannot deny anyone of existence these very human experiences. What are the signs of toxic positivity? Look for these:

  • Feeling guilty for being sad, angry, or anxious
  • Hiding painful emotions
  • Responding to hard situations with “positive” quotes or platitudes
  • Dismissing other’s difficult feelings

Each of these responses can shame, cause guilt, avoid emotions, or even prevent growth that comes through facing challenges.

The Rewards of Gratitude at Work

Learning to express gratitude at work has its own unique rewards. Below are 4 work benefits of expressing gratitude verbally or in writing.

Strengthens Teams

When gratitude is flowing, people gel together better and faster. Whether your team is your co-worker in the next cubicle, your collection of clients scattered hither and yon, the family you’ve chosen, or the one under the same roof with you, gratitude will make you stronger together

Motivates More than Money

The #1 reason people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. Gratitude boosts retention! People will take a lower pay rate when they know they’re joining a strong culture of gratitude and positivity. When you have a team that notices and appreciates one another, you’ll have a team that sticks together through thick and thin. 

Makes You More Sensitive to Others

Once you begin to notice all the good things in your life, the more empathetic you become towards others. When you notice highs and lows in your own life, you react to them more compassionately. Learning to see the details of good around you more specifically, you walk through life much more aware of your impact on others, and what others are experiencing.

Exponentially Increases Joy

You get joy when you write a thank you note. The recipient experiences joy when they receive it. Anyone who witnesses the act of kindness gets a jab of joy as well. And the ripple effects continue to carry out when each joyful person interacts with others both inside the workplace and out. 

5 Tips to Express Gratitude at Work

There are a variety of ways to express gratitude at work. Below are just a few to explore.

Be prompt

When something comes your way that makes you smile or say, “Wow,” don’t delay your expression of gratitude. Jot a note, send an email, or say thank you face to face.

Think of different ways to say thank you

Try, “You made my day!” Or “You’re a lifesaver” By expressing your enthusiasm, you may delight the giver even more than just a “thank you.” If you’re naturally more reserved, try “I really appreciate what you did…”, “I’m very grateful for…”, or “I was really pleased…”

Personalize your thoughts

Their thoughtfulness affected you. Let them know how. Start with a phrase like, “You reminded me….” or “You’ve always been…” Personalizing your response in this way adds more depth and meaning than a simple "thank you" ever could.

Be specific

If someone gave you great advice, let them know not just how much you appreciate it, but also how you’re going to apply it. If it's a trinket or candle, let them know when you'll use it or where it will live.

Be future-focused

If someone gave you a book, thank them, but also let them know you’ve started it and what you’re learning or noticing. If they sent you a referral, express the ways you plan to help this new person.

Support RAFT Advocates