Gratitude: The Relational Elixir

Very skilled social capitalists often receive attention for the really clever, grand activities they incorporate into their work life, everything from the organizational systems they implement to the fancy parties they throw. In the context of these elaborate strategies talk of something like the power of expressing gratitude can seem so small and so overblown — until you read the research.

Want a quick booster shot to immediately improve a relationship? A minor thankful gesture, according to the following study, has a transformative impact:

This research was conducted to examine the hypothesis that expressing gratitude to a relationship partner enhances one’s perception of the relationship’s communal strength. In Study 1 (N = 137), a cross-sectional survey, expressing gratitude to a relationship partner was positively associated with the expresser’s perception of the communal strength of the relationship. In Study 2 (N = 218), expressing gratitude predicted increases in the expresser’s perceptions of the communal strength of the relationship across time. In Study 3 (N = 75), participants were randomly assigned to an experimental condition, in which they expressed gratitude to a friend, or to one of three control conditions, in which they thought grateful thoughts about a friend, thought about daily activities, or had positive interactions with a friend. At the end of the study, perceived communal strength was higher among participants in the expression-of-gratitude condition than among those in all three control conditions. We discuss the theoretical and applied implications of these findings and suggest directions for future research. (Source: “Benefits of Expressing Gratitude, Expressing Gratitude to a Partner Changes One’s View of the Relationship” from Psychological Science.)

Gratitude doesn’t just immediately improve a relationship, it can make it more productive. Bob Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss, covers another study on the power of “thank you” in the workplace:

The simple act of having a boss come by and offer a public thanks to one group, and but not the other, really packed a wallop.  These fundraisers were paid a fixed salary, so Grant and Gino compared the number of phone calls made be each fundraiser before and after the “thank you” intervention.  The results were pretty impressive, as while there was no change in the average number of calls made by the group that was not offered thanks, the folks who heard a warm two sentence thank you from a boss made an average of about 50% more calls during the subsequent week. (Source: “A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way: Explaining Why Gratitude Expressions Motivate Prosocial Behavior” from Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.)

Piling up daily small interpersonal wins with seemingly trivial gestures is the social capitalist’s bread and butter.

Tahl Raz is the host of myGreenlight’s Social Capitalist Series.

Self-Service Professional Coaching Launches at the New MyGreenlight

Kibibi Springs is the myGreenlight Community Manager.

Hello myGreenlight community,

I’m Kibibi Springs the newest community member to the myGreenlight staff and your Community Manager. I look forward to us getting to know each other. Welcome also to those of you who aren’t GL members (yet!) but who are coming here because you’re constantly looking to improve your professional relationships and build social capital.

Since this is my first post, I thought I’d share what’s prominent on my business goal list. Lately, I’ve been receiving generous energy from my network in the form of professional coaching.  It’s very humbling when someone wants to invest the best of their knowledge set in your professional development and it’s a fascinating journey that everyone should experience.

During the rebrand, we thought about how to give all of the myGreenlight Community the advantage of our coaches’ wisdom. The result, is the new Coaching Q & A center in the Tools and Resources area. It’s a self-service coaching archive with an on-demand multimedia library of past coaching.  Access to coaching on myGreenlight just got easier and customizable to your individual needs. Now you can take your relationship mastery progress into your own hands.

Whether your challenge is related to developing better relationships with coworkers; managing confusing agendas when meeting with business partners of the opposite sex; or finding the best ways to approach potential contacts using social media; the Coaching Q&A center has a suggested solution for you. You also have the choice to submit a question of your own and one of our coaches will reply with an answer and add it to the center for others to take advantage of in the future.

MyGreenlight members, check out the Coaching feature soon! Everyone else: Have you ever sought out the help of a professional coach – and did it help you move forward? Tell us about it.