In honor of Valentine’s Day let’s all write love letters to someone who isn’t expecting it.
Start with coworkers and clients. Hear me out. I’m not suggesting you send innuendo-laden poems to colleagues or lewd suggestions to customers.
I’m suggesting you send a message to someone you interact with regularly and tell them something you admire about them. Be honest and specific. For example:
“I really liked the way you handled that difficult customer on the phone. You kept your cool in a demanding situation, I really admire your ability to do that.”
You may say “Thank You” to your associates and clientele regularly but do you ever tell them you admire them? Probably not. Gratitude and admiration often travel together in literature but they are different and expressing them has different effects.
“Thank you” is so ubiquitous that it has nearly lost its meaning and power. Research shows that we say “thank you” about 2,000 times a year on average but more than half of the time we don’t actually mean it. It’s become habitual.
In positive psychology research, a sincerely felt and expressed “thank you” is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. Maybe it’s time we slow down and really feel the gratitude.
”Witnessing excellence in action: the ‘other-praising’ emotions of elevation, gratitude, and admiration”, published in The Journal of Positive Psychology in 2009 by Sara B. Algoe & Jonathan Haidt showed what happens when we reveal our admiration for someone. The results of their studies suggest that admiration motivates self-improvement. This makes sense when you think about elite athletes, they constantly improve to continue to get the admiration of their fans and not disappoint.
If you tell members of your staff that you admire their customer service or their determination to learn something, they may be more motivated to improve because they know someone is noticing what they do and is rooting for them. You must be honest though, people can tell when you are being insincere.
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Sara B. Algoe & Jonathan Haidt (2009) Witnessing excellence in action: the ‘other-praising’ emotions of elevation, gratitude, and admiration, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4:2, 105-127, DOI: 10.1080/17439760802650519