What Kids Can Teach Us About Gratitude

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Learn to Show Gratitude from Your Kids

Most of us are taught to say “thank you” and express gratitude from an early age. Yet, these early lessons often don’t translate well when it comes to showing employees and other adults appreciation. Many business owners mistakenly feel that employees know when they’ve done something well, so they don’t need to hear praise from others. Other business owners may avoid praise because they fear anything they say will be considered insincere.

Becoming more comfortable with gratitude and praise is crucial to a healthy workplace. Business owners can learn to do this from their families, especially their children.

Learn to Say “I Get To”

Often, parents let exhaustion and frustration change the way they look at relationships with their kids. They say or think things like, “I have to drive carpool this week,” “I have to make this costume for the school play,” or, “I have to make sure the kids get dinner.” In turn, kids learn to think this way too – “I have to do my homework,” “I have to be nice to my sister,” and so forth. This attitude can translate to the workplace, which means employees will see their work as an endless list of tiresome tasks.

At work and in your family, learn to say, “I get to do this.” Help your employees focus on their strengths so they can say, “I get to write this article today,” or “I get to meet with a new client today.” This will ensure positive attitudes, and it will carry over to the kids when you get home, as well.

Catch People Doing Good

Children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, spend plenty of time hearing “No,” “Don’t,” and “Stop.” Unfortunately, adults hear that at work too. For them it sounds like, “You need to improve this,” “You need to redo this,” or “Don’t do that again.” These phrases frustrate and exhaust kids, and they can make adults just plain angry.

Instead, make the effort to catch your employees doing things well. Send a surprise email to say something like, “That lesson plan you turned in for my review is excellent” or “Our client loved the way you presented this service.” Stop by during the day to ask how people are doing and assure them that they’re completing tasks correctly. If you know a task or project was particularly difficult, make a point of saying, “Thank you for being so diligent with that assignment.”

Appreciate Employees’ Time

thank-you-balloonIt may seem odd to appreciate or verbally thank employees for their time. After all, you hired them to work for you and expect them to do their jobs. Recall, though, that employees are adults with personal lives that could easily take time away from work. Sometimes, employees don’t want to come to work or have pressing issues at home, so it’s actually a sacrifice for them to show up.

In this area, it’s good to treat your employees the way you would your kids. That is, since your children won’t be at home forever, you often make the effort to spend extra time with them. Do the same for employees. Talk to them about things other than work. Invite them out for lunch or coffee. Spend 10-15 minutes on a thank you card or a praise-heavy newsletter. Consistently say, with words and actions, “Thank you for being here.”

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