Thanksgiving is nearly here, the kick-off day to the holiday season when we’re all supposed to count our blessings and give thanks for the good in our lives. I say “supposed to” because, if you know me, you know I believe these are things we should be doing every day, all year ’round!

No matter what the economy is doing, what challenges your industry is facing or what human resources issues you may facing, gratitude is a great starting point for just about everything – from the start of your day to the start of a team meeting. Why? Because it lessens stress, opens the mind to possibilities, and engages the heart in all the good that surrounds us even when we can’t see it.

When you bookend moments in gratitude – for example, starting and ending meetings, meals and appointments with thankful thoughts – you are creating “no-cost gifts” for yourself and all the people around you including co-workers, your customers and even your family. This far-reaching outcome is called “The Spillover Effect.”

That’s a fancy way of saying that emotions are contagious! Ever notice the way one person who is really down can have a negative impact on everyone in a room? Of course you have. And the reverse, thankfully, is also true – good feelings are catchy, and I believe they can transform not only moods but employee engagement and employee performance.

Here are 5 simple, no-cost ways you can amp up your appreciation daily and create a powerfully positive Spillover Effect that can improve employee engagement and customer experiences:

1.   Revisit the Basics: Whether you say it out loud or think it quietly to yourself, get into the habit of giving thanks for the many things we all tend to take for granted: Employment, co-workers, customers, meals, family and friends, kind words from strangers, the skills of your barber, open parking spots when we need them. .. You are disciplining your mind to seek and acknowledge what’s good in the world, thus retraining your mind to spend less and less time simmering in the negative. You are creating an attitude and a habit of gratitude, very powerful tools in your customer care skill set. 

2.   Feel your appreciation: You know that saying, “It’s the thought that counts.” Well, when it comes to creating positivity spillover, the thought counts more when there is feeling behind it. So when you gratefully recall a compliment you received earlier in the day, feel its warm-fuzziness. Let that warmth grow into a smile that encompasses your whole face, and envision gratitude traveling from your heart to the heart of the person who gave you the compliment. Do this over and over and over again, training your gratitude muscle to flex almost without prompting. Before you go to sleep at night write down 3 things that happened that day for which you are grateful. 

3.   Notice the difference appreciation makes within you. You can actually use your gratitude practice as a means of working better! See, when you extend genuine thanks from your “heart space,” you create positive emotions that open your brain to possibilities; you’re actually decreasing stress (and your blood pressure!), increasing your ability to solve problems faster (which customers and co-workers will love), and pumping up the natural feel-good hormones in your body – your endorphins. Notice this and, if you’re an overachiever, start writing down the feelings and experiences you notice when in a state of gratitude. Extraordinary! 

4.   Notice the difference your appreciation makes in others. When was the last time you genuinely thanked a team member for a job well done? Though you might think of yourself as a courteous person who thanks people all the time, chances are you are like everyone else: You fall into patterns where you take the fastest route to a task – say, thanking someone in an email – rather than looking someone in the eye and, with a genuine smile of appreciation, saying thank you along with the specific reason for your gratitude and a few words on how and why the person you are thanking has made a positive difference.

Ok, you may not be able to do this daily with everyone, but you can certainly make it a goal to thank people on a moderately sized team at least once a week in person. Do this repeatedly and notice what happens; are people lighting up when you share your thanks? Are they repeating the actions you let them know were valued by you and the company? Is your appreciation for team members causing them to be more appreciative of customers and of each other? Are you seeing the Spillover Effect? Very interesting, indeed!

5.   Encourage co-workers to get into the attitude of gratitude. There are lots of easy ways to accomplish this worthy task. While in line in the company cafeteria, ask co-workers what they feel appreciative of, and share what’s fueling your appreciation. While you’re in the cafeteria, be sure to thank people who are too often overlooked like the cook, or the cashier. Start meetings with appreciative remarks for all those attending, again being specific about the behaviors and attitudes that positively caught your attention.

End meetings by asking each person to share something they are grateful for that they learned at the meeting or noticed within the company. Being that it’s the holidays, get everyone on board for a collection for the local food bank, or a coat drive. Talk about how grateful you are to have these basics, and to be able to share them with those who do not. Institute a company or departmental Gratitude Journal in which employees can write thanks anytime, to anyone, for making life at work easier or more pleasant. Encourage them to end each work day – or even each day at home, before bed – by writing down three to five things for which they are thankful. Notice positive changes in your team that result from these approaches.

These five steps are relatively easy to implement (including at home – especially during the holidays!). When they’re not – say, with a difficult employee or a seemingly “no win” situation – that’s the time to challenge yourself by sticking with it and looking more deeply for the lesson, gift or silver lining. I promise, it’s worth your time and attention in all areas of your life to both create and take in the cascades of positive spillover created by genuine appreciation.

Here is a little gift for you from my friends and teachers at Heartmath.

This special report is called the “State of Ease” and it will help you access that state of calm and ease all throughout the holiday season. I know I am going to use it often! While you are on their site, take a look around. They are continually inspiring me.

Thank you so much for being part of my life, my business, my community. You and I have the power to change the world, even if we sometimes do it one customer at a time! Emotions are contagious – let’s spread the good ones around.

A Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from all of us at JoAnna Brandi and Company, Inc.

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