Four Ways to Practice Thankfulness as a Team

We are plodding through day 601 of the pandemic. You may have noticed your team’s mood nosedive into detachment and sadness. So how can you combat the shrinking morale? Gratitude. It is linked to improved physical health, better-quality sleep, and boosted self-esteem. 

The Good News About Gratitude

It may be more difficult than usual for you to find something to be thankful for, but practicing thankfulness will offer many benefits.

Smile More and Stress Less 

Thankfulness is related to 23 percent lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Just two gratitude activities (counting blessings and gratitude letter writing) reduced the risk of depression in at-risk patients by 41 percent over a six month period. Science shows gratitude reduces stress and boosts happiness. Gratitude blocks toxic emotions such as regret, envy, resentment, and depression, which can destroy our happiness. It is not possible to feel grateful and envious at the same time.

Build a More Resilient Brain

Another benefit of gratitude is mental toughness. Vietnam War Veterans had lower rates of PTSD when they practiced gratitude. Similarly, increased resiliency will help your team thrive despite the numerous distractions that could tank their spirits. 

Encouraging My Team To Share Gratitude 

How do you make thankfulness happen on a team at work? Gratitude is something to practice as a group in addition to individually These are the five main ways to get your thankfulness into a higher gear. 

1. Weave gratitude into your evaluations

Incorporate gratitude when evaluating how a previous project went. Your team probably identifies what went well and what didn’t after a project. So add in a third element — what you’re thankful for. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Just a quick recognition can show authentic appreciation for your team members’ contributions. 

2. Set aside time for “snaps” or acknowledgments

Just one in three workers strongly agree that they received recognition for doing good work in the past seven days. So be intentional about acknowledging a well-done job. For the first few minutes of your meetings, set aside a few minutes for coworkers to talk about the accomplishments of others. 

3. Gain a fresh view on perceived missteps

Hard lessons show us ways to improve, but they are also an opportunity to express gratitude. Asking questions during a troubleshooting session can show us how to be thankful. These questions will help you find the silver linings in even the most challenging experiences: 

  • Has the experience eliminated an obstacle that previously stopped us from feeling grateful?
  • What surprising ability did the experience show us?
  • In what ways have we become a better workplace because of this?
  • Can we find ways to be thankful for what happened to us now, even though we were not thankful at the time it happened?

4. Instead of apologizing, say thank you. 

Small changes can flip the script for gratitude to spread on your team. Swap out your “I’m sorry” with a “thank you.” Here are a few examples:

  • Instead of saying “I’m so sorry for messing up,” say “Thanks for catching that.”
  • Instead of saying “I’m sorry I’m late,” say “Thanks for waiting.”
  • Instead of saying “I’m sorry for interrupting you,” say “Thanks for chipping in.”

Saying “thank you” forces us to notice and appreciate what we have. It also expresses more confidence in others. 

Make gratitude an essential part of your team

It’s easy for a doom and gloom attitude to wash over your group. One study found that nearly 70 percent of workers say the pandemic has been the most stressful time of their entire careers. Encouraging an appreciation culture can reduce stress, increase happiness, boost mental toughness, and help your team remember the positives. 

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