I'll admit I was driving a little faster than usual. I'm naturally a worried father, but it was 1:15 AM, and my family needed help. They had a tire blowout from picking up my daughter at college on their way home. On a good day, it's an 8-hour drive. Today wasn't a good day.
Unfortunately, she hit some road debris, which caused this blowout. It had been six hours since the first call to the roadside assistance number. They were now on the side of a busy highway and were cold, hungry, and scared. Worse, they were also now low on gas, and their cell phone batteries were losing their charges. What happened next floored me. It left me looking for opportunities in the least obvious places.
I knew my family could only drive about 70 miles on the small spare, so I booked a hotel nearby. It was 10 p.m. when the night manager recognized they hadn't checked in. So he reached out by calling to see if there was anything he could do to help. At 1:20 a.m., I started driving slower. The hotel manager, Michael, had finished changing the tire, and I would meet them in 30 minutes. A weight lifted from my spirit. Thanks, I don't do justice to describe how I felt. Relieved, not stressed, blessed, amazed, grateful, fortunate, and humbled are emotions I felt. Now, I want to “give” others similar feelings. Not only during holidays but every day. I also want to encourage you, so here are some compelling reasons why it makes sense to give kindness and thanks. Plus, I share some ways how.
4 Things to Remember About Giving
- Giving makes the giver happy and blesses others. It feels incredible to give of ourselves, our talents, gifts, and time! It may also add years to your life. Studies show that when we give, it makes our hearts stronger and reduces stress and depression. It can add years to your life. Approach giving to others without expecting anything in return. Football great Walter Payton lived this, and it drove his generosity. Payton lived this quote: “You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who cannot repay you.” I had a chance to meet Walter Payton in 1989 – a year after he retired from football. He flew his plane to the Air Force base where I was for a Christmas morale event. He devoted time to thanking servicemen and women and signing autographs during his life. He did this and more up until he passed away. Walter Payton is well-known for his generosity.
- Giving can occur in any context – and is especially important at work. Want to give something valuable at work? No, you don't have to make a casserole. Provide others with your full attention. Give them feedback or a solution to a problem. Doctors who listen attentively to their patients experience higher satisfaction ratings. These doctors also have higher referrals. In this instance, the doctor sees a positive impact on the patient. Studies have shown this works in any interpersonal situation – especially customer interactions. Customers often report the #1 trait of excellent salespeople is their ability to listen.
- Giving improves workplace performance. Social recognition of employees is often overlooked. Companies with formal recognition will sometimes think they have all the boxes checked. Why wait for the quarterly contest or annual performance review? Giving social recognition enhances loyalty, reduces absenteeism, and improves customer relationships. See below for more details on how you can Give Back to Your Team.
- People respond positively – even if we are afraid they won't. It's true. Giving a simple compliment is easy, doesn't cost anything, and makes the world more excellent. Most of us never give praise. We worry about how the other will interpret it – and the costs of judgment or an unintended faux pas keep us silent. Research in this area is clear. As long as you are genuine and it's not sexual, people love it when you give a simple compliment – or are nice. Acknowledge their behavior and not their looks. It's all about context. Say, “I love your jacket if you like someone's wardrobe. It's so festive.” We tend to brush off the impact even when others acknowledge the compliment. Your praise might make someone's day. What are you waiting for?
Creative Ways to Give to Your Team At Work
There is a clear correlation between the success of a leader and their ability to recognize and reward their team's efforts. Praising not only builds trust but strengthens loyalty as well. Turnover is often much lower in groups with a strong bond with their leader, impacting a company's bottom line.
Yet, many leaders avoid showing appreciation. They feel it may undermine their authority, build jealousy among team members, or cause embarrassment. It doesn't have to be so complicated. Thank your employees for these creative ideas, and your team will be more engaged. Your employees will go the extra mile for you and your customers when you need it most. Giving thanks goes a long way.
Here are some practical ideas to give back to your team:
- Have plenty of cards and notes you can personalize to share your appreciation. Remember, a simple “Thank-you” handwritten holds impact. Call out the behavior and the effect – followed by a sincere “thank you.” I still have every one of the handwritten notes anyone has ever written to me. It takes time to be thoughtful in today's world, and it means a lot.
- A similar note on a post-it works well. I know people who have kept and framed their Post-It's
- Movie passes, gift cards, even lunch with you are unique ways to say thanks. Don't give a meat tray to a vegetarian. Make sure it aligns well with the person and their interests and lifestyles.
- If you are social distancing, have a delivery service bring their favorite meal to their door. Services like Doordash, GrubHub, and Goldbelly are great ways to say thanks.
- Use employee recognition platforms like bonusly, nectar, motivosity, awardco, etc. These solutions help increase positive behavior. It's an ideal way to catch people doing something right.
- Develop an award that is meaningful and unique. I had a leader once give away old cans of soup to show appreciation to the team. Everyone loved it when they were the “soup”erstars!
- Give recognition to employees who are not in the home office or live in another location. Make them feel included.
- Pass the torch – Give recognition, and have the recipient pass it on next month. In this way, they carry the torch, then look for someone to acknowledge in the future.
- Invite a senior leader to be present (physically or virtually)during your recognition. Even if they cannot be, it makes a difference to come over the top with good wishes.
- Reward good behavior with mentoring and growth opportunities.
- Give a shout-out at the next company meeting, highlighting the person and the team.
- Give praise in your instant messaging/collaboration tools. Make it fun and meaningful.
- The next time you hear a positive remark about someone – pass it on to that person as soon as possible. Send it across the organization and celebrate it.
- When I was in the Air Force, we received awards for coming up with suggestions. Some suggestions to save the organization money and improve safety and morale. We would also get recognized for teamwork. As a way to say thanks, we would serve dinner during the holidays to our teams and their families. Serving our warriors and their families was the most exciting event of the year!
A small gesture of kindness and giving at work, especially your team, will result in a stronger team. What ideas can you think of?
The Power of Gratitude
Giving is something we actively need to do. Gratitude is the reaffirmation of what we are thankful for. I've often realized the power of gratitude in my own life. When I've been down and feel unappreciated – I give to someone else. And then count my blessings. It has been a lifesaver. Even when you don't have anything, you can be grateful. Acknowledging what gifts exist in my life has become a daily ritual for me. Try it for yourself. Start with your health, then move to family, friendships, job, gifts, and talents. We all have unique value we can bring to the world. Acknowledge yours, even when no one else will. Consider it and use it to propel generosity. When we live with gratitude, we hold the keys to unlocking potential in others.
Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. What does your speech reflect? How does this empower your actions?
Science has shown that gratitude is the one emotion that helps decrease impatience. We scurry about complaining in our busy world, especially during the holidays. Look at the “other drivers,” the people in the checkout lines, and more. We are impatient.
The antidote to impatience is gratitude. It can improve teamwork, cooperation, and satisfaction. It can also contribute to better mental and physical health.
Take Action – “Give” thanks.
We've seen there are definite benefits from your self-reflection of gratitude. And we've considered the impact giving has on organizational success. The most influential act of giving is the one that has yet to happen. Every day we wake up with limitless opportunities to provide joy to others. Our actions can result in gratitude in another. So each of us has the power to create unending loops that make life better and healthier for us all.
Michael wasn't aware of his impact when he helped my family – at the right time when they needed it. His actions were not part of his job, nor did he seek favor or a reward. He did it out of the abundance of his heart. In doing so, it spurred me to write this to inspire you.
Take time and actively look for opportunities to give. They are all around you. Your smile may be just what's needed for someone lonely. Your appreciation may be long overdue. In your way, choose to GIVE. It's EXACTLY what we all need right now.
2019. “”Kindness: an Underrated Currency.” .” The BMJ. https://www.bmj.com/content/367/bmj.l6099.
Boothby, Erica J., and Vanessa K. Bohns. 2021. “”Why a Simple Act of Kindness Is Not as Simple as It Seems: Underestimating the Positive Impact of Our Compliments on Others.”.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 47 (5): 826-840.
DeSteno, David, Ye Li, Leah Dickens, and Jennifer S. Lerner. 2014. “”Gratitude.”.” Psychological Science 25 (6): 1262-1267.
Park, Kyoung-Ok, Mark G. Wilson, and M. Sun Lee. 2004. “”Effects of social support at work on depression and organizational productivity.”.” American journal of health behavior 28 (5): 444-55. doi:10.5993/ajhb.28.5.7.
Yager, Don. 2008. WALTER PAYTON. December 1. Accessed November 22, 2021. https://donyaeger.com/walter-payton/.