It’s all about grat­i­tude

5 com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tages be­ing thank­ful gives en­trepreneurs

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Jobs - By Dor­cas Cheng-Tozun Dor­cas Cheng-Tozun is the au­thor of “Start, Love, Re­peat: How to Stay in Love with Your En­tre­pre­neur in a Crazy Start-up World.”

From a young age, we learn that say­ing “thank you” is the po­lite thing to do. But the im­pact of ex­press­ing grat­i­tude goes far broader and deeper, in both busi­ness and per­sonal set­tings.

Be­ing grate­ful in our ev­ery­day lives is ac­tu­ally a pow­er­ful strat­egy for im­prov­ing our ef­fec­tive­ness as lead­ers and strength­en­ing the re­la­tion­ships we all rely on. In study af­ter study, so­cial sci­en­tists have proven that a grate­ful per­son can go fur­ther and ac­com­plish more.

Here are five prac­ti­cal ways that grat­i­tude can give en­trepreneurs a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage:

1. Man­ag­ing stress

En­trepreneurs live with a lot of stress, and it has se­ri­ous im­pacts. One study found that 72 per­cent of en­trepreneurs self-re­ported at least one men­tal health is­sue, such as de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety or sub­stance abuse.

Grat­i­tude is a pow­er­ful force for sup­port­ing our phys­i­cal and emo­tional health. Grate­ful peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence fewer aches and pains, and they are less im­pacted by neg­a­tive emo­tions like envy, re­sent­ment and frus­tra­tion. They are also more emo­tion­ally re­silient. Be­ing grate­ful is an easy and pos­i­tive way to coun­ter­bal­ance the many chal­lenges that en­trepreneurs face.

2. Net­work­ing and re­la­tion­ship build­ing

Re­search has found that be­ing grate­ful to some­one is a won­der­ful way to make a pos­i­tive first im­pres­sion. Sim­ply say­ing “thank you” or writ­ing a short note of thanks to some­one who did some­thing nice for you makes that per­son much more likely to seek an on­go­ing re­la­tion­ship with you. It also in­creases the like­li­hood that the two of you will have a high­erqual­ity re­la­tion­ship.

This is an ef­fec­tive — and kind — way to break down bar­ri­ers with new busi­ness ac­quain­tances. And it can strengthen ex­ist­ing pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ships with col­leagues and part­ners as well.

3. Gain­ing and re­tain­ing cus­tomers

Ev­ery­one en­joys be­ing thanked, and they en­joy re­turn­ing to places where they feel ap­pre­ci­ated. Many busi­ness own­ers can tell sto­ries about how thank­ing their cus­tomers — ei­ther with a sim­ple “I ap­pre­ci­ate your busi­ness” or of­fer­ing tan­gi­ble gifts like dis­counts — helped their bot­tom line.

Grat­i­tude has been linked with higher self-es­teem and an in­creased sense of loy­alty, both of which help turn new cus­tomers into re­peat cus­tomers. Say­ing “thank you” is a sim­ple way to make your cus­tomers feel great about pur­chas­ing your prod­uct or ser­vice.

4. Mo­ti­vat­ing em­ploy­ees

Amer­i­cans tend to give 10 times more neg­a­tive feed­back than pos­i­tive feed­back. And this is prob­a­bly truer in the work­place than any­where else. But ac­cord­ing to CEO and coach Camille Pre­ston, “Grat­i­tude, when it’s gen­uine, has the power to help trans­form the emo­tional bank­ruptcy we feel when con­fronted with neg­a­tive feed­back.”

As much as 71 per­cent of Amer­i­can em­ploy­ees don’t feel fully en­gaged at work, and feel­ing un­ap­pre­ci­ated is one of the top rea­sons why. Pre­ston rec­om­mends pro­mot­ing em­ployee en­gage­ment and mo­ti­va­tion not through crit­i­cal feed­back but tai­lored ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

A study in the Jour­nal of Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence backs her up: Grat­i­tude has a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on man­agers’ re­la­tion­ships with their di­rect re­ports. Em­ploy­ees feel more trusted, are more sat­is­fied, per­form bet­ter and ex­pe­ri­ence more or­ga­ni­za­tional loy­alty when they are ap­pre­ci­ated.

5. Main­tain­ing a hap­pier fam­ily life

No one can build a new ven­ture with­out help. Those clos­est to you — sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers, fam­ily mem­bers and close friends — have likely given up time and re­sources to bol­ster your dream. We can for­get to thank the peo­ple right in front of us, but they need it just as much as any­one else.

In ad­di­tion to all the ways in which say­ing thank you can strengthen bonds, prac­tic­ing grat­i­tude has also been linked di­rectly with mar­i­tal qual­ity. It re­duces the risk of di­vorce and helps cou­ples bounce back from con­flict. And when your main re­la­tion­ships are do­ing well, you will be more ef­fec­tive and pro­duc­tive in the work­place.

Any time is a good time to be­gin prac­tic­ing a lit­tle more grat­i­tude. Start a grat­i­tude jour­nal and record three to five things a day that you’re thank­ful for. Make it a goal to ex­press ap­pre­ci­a­tion to at least two peo­ple each day. It won’t take long be­fore you be­gin to see and ex­pe­ri­ence the re­sult­ing good­ness.


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