As I was researching gratitude, I came across this quote by William Arthur Ward, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Imagine how many opportunities we would miss if we never gave this present to those that deserve it.
Demonstrating trust often means showing an appropriate level of vulnerability. We give power to the person we are grateful for by putting ourselves aside for a moment. When we are vulnerable, we can also admit our mistakes; share the difficulties we have when making hard decisions; and be open to ideas that may be better than our own.
I worked with a leader who joined an organization mired in distrust and dissatisfaction several years ago. Because of some of the baggage left behind by the former chief executive, the new guy had to earn trust from the starting gate from staff members and customers alike.
He made tremendous strides building trust in a very simple way… gratitude. Simple acts of saying and showing thanks.
It would be easy and understandable for him to forget to say thanks. He was busy, just like we are all busy. It would be easy to just expect people to do their jobs and get on with it, but he figured out that showing someone a little appreciation now and then could mean the difference between a “punch the clock” mentality and a committed, engaged, and trusting co-worker, partner, or employee.
He wasn’t just paying lip service to the thanks he was doling out. He truly meant it and people could sense that he was the real deal. When he took the time to show some genuine appreciation for the work people did, the sacrifices they were making, and the extra effort they spent, the nature of their relationships changed; trust grew. Soon, that trust was visible in the quality and quantity of work outputs and loyalty of customers.
Many of us spend more waking hours with our co-workers than we do with our family and friends. Like it or not, you and your co-workers are in it together. You are a team. You are there to catch each other if someone falls. You are there to catapult each other over the wall. If one person in your organization fails, the entire organization suffers.
He figured out that he couldn’t force people to trust him. But he could act in ways that were trustworthy. And over time, trust was built. And trust builds on trust. If you trust me, I am more likely to trust you.
To anyone who works in an organization, be grateful for each other and trust one another. Make sure to say thanks, people will appreciate it and so will you when they say thanks back and place their trust in you.
“The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” – Charles Schwab
Kate Nelson is a partner in Change Guides, LLC (www.changeguidesllc.com) and the co-author of The Change Management Pocket Guide and The Eight Constants of Change. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.