Six ways to change your workplace by saying thanks

By Greg Dardis / Guest Column

Every day I work with words, helping clients articulate more effective messages. My mission is to help them speak as well as they think. The senior executives, mid-level managers and new college graduates I coach are all smart — they simply need some guidance to demonstrate those smarts.

Choosing words with great care is my business. And over the years, I’ve come to a conclusion on what may be the most powerful word in the English language: thanks.

Saying thanks immediately makes a person feel seen, appreciated and valued — all incredibly powerful emotions. It can also work in profound ways.

It feels good to be thanked and to express thanks. It slows us down enough to recognize how fortunate we are, to appreciate our lives and the people in it.

This is the season of giving thanks, and the time to make a practice of gratitude. November is intended to be a quiet month to reflect and recognize blessings in our lives before December’s drumbeat to Christmas.

Fascinating research has uncovered the benefits of gratitude, which improves physical and psychological health.

Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than others, studies find. They’re also more likely to take care of their health, which contributes to greater longevity.

Another compelling finding relates to mental health. Gratitude reduces toxic emotions — from envy to resentment to regret — and can even ease depression. It activates your brain in significant and lasting ways, resulting in greater sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex, the region associated with decision-making and memory.

The effect of gratitude on relationships is also noteworthy. We tend to associate this with our personal lives: taking the time to thank an over-worked spouse, a supportive friend or a dedicated teacher. But it also can wield subtle power in the workplace. Consider these six ways to enhance your career through gratitude:

1. Thank your supervisor for a difficult assignment. This is likely to stand out in his or her memory. It will demonstrate that you appreciate a challenge and rise to the occasion — outstanding qualities in any employee and cause for promotion.

2. Thank your supervisor for being understanding when you missed the mark. We all drop the ball on occasion, and a thank you to a forgiving supervisor can turn a negative into a positive, demonstrating the high standards and level of self-awareness to which you hold yourself — important qualities in a long-term employee.

3. Thank a colleague who provided you with behind-the-scenes support on a project. It will build loyalty and inspire future collaboration.

4. Thank a colleague who asked for your behind-the-scenes support on a project. This angle is less expected and can cast you as a true team player. Simple, straightforward sentiments will work well. “I was honored to help with this important campaign.” “I was impressed by your approach and happy to play a small role.” “It’s a pleasure working with you!”

5. Thank your employer or client for their business. Here too, a simple message goes a long way. “I’m grateful for your business.” “I appreciate this work.” “I feel fortunate to have such meaningful work.” “Thanks for enabling me to provide for my family.” These are words most of us simply don’t articulate and they are powerful.

6. Thank the CEO for his or her leadership. Voice your appreciation for his vision, for his commitment, for his support of working parents — whatever means most to you. Make it personal but brief.

Put these tips into practice by Thanksgiving and prepare to reap the benefits.

Greg Dardis is the CEO of Dardis Communications, based in Coralville. For more information, visit