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April 16, 2019

How to Show Appreciation at Home or at Work

Two students, a transgender woman and a non-binary femme, holding hands in a school bathroom

When we think of healthy relationships, we often think of marriage and intimate relationships, but the relationships you foster with friends, neighbours and co-workers can also have a significant impact on your well being. Daily interactions can affect your stress levels, sleep, mental health, self-esteem and even your cardiovascular health. This is why more business partners and entrepreneurs are investing in the quality of their workplace relationships.

Earlier today, Jess joined Carolyn and Jeff on The Morning Show to discuss one strategy to improve workplace interactions. Jess lead them through an exercise that people can try with both couples and business partners. This is an exercise designed to address the gratitude gap.

We already know that the benefits of expressing gratitude range from the physical to the emotional — gratitude is associated with lower blood pressure, greater life satisfaction, lower rates of depression and anxiety, greater empathy, improved sleep, more energy, pain relief, less stress, happier relationships – the list goes on and on.

And in relationships, clear expressions of gratitude can mean the difference between indifference and resentment and meaning and connection.

But in happy relationships, in which you get along and really function as a team, it can be easy to take some of the things your partner does for granted. And these are the things you need to remember to say thank you for – the things you always do, the things you’ve come to expect them to do and the things that don’t reap all the glory. Say thank you for these things.

These thank you’s address the gratitude gap – we feel thankful but we don’t say it. Sometimes we don’t say it because saying it might suggest that we need help – and make us vulnerable. Sometimes we don’t say it because we don’t feel worthy. Sometimes we don’t say thank you because we subconsciously worry that we’re not reciprocating so we don’t want to say it out loud and call attention to our own deficits.

We know from research in business that expressing gratitude to someone keeps them interested and invested in having a relationship with you.

We also know from Adam Grant and Francesca Gino’s business research that when someone doesn’t express gratitude to you, it reduces the likelihood of your helping them in the future in by half.

For this exercise, Jess asked Jeff and Carolyn to write down three things they appreciate about each other. Oftentimes, we speak up when something is wrong, but not when things are going well. Check out how it went in the video below.

How you express gratitude matters. Researchers Sara Algoe, Laura Kurtz, and Nicole Hilaire at the University of North Carolina identify two types of gratitude expressions: other-praising, which focuses on the actions of the giver, and self-benefit, which describes how you the receiver benefit. In one of your studies, couples were expressed gratitude to each other for something your partner had recently done for them. What you found was that when the gratitude is “other-praising”, the person receiving gratitude feels happier and more loving toward your partner.

So there is a difference between thanks for doing the dishes; it gave me time to relax and thanks for doing the dishes – You’re really sweet and a great partner.