“Dena, can you come here a sec?” my supervisor asked.
“Sure,” I replied, moving toward her office. I took a deep breath, hoping whatever she had to say was good news. Our non-profit had been under the gun for awhile, struggling to make ends meet in a volatile economy.
When I reached her desk, she said, “Have I told you lately how glad I am you’ve joined our team?”
I smiled. “Not this week,” I replied.
“Well, I am. You’re such a great addition to our group.”
“Thanks so much,” I said. “I love working here. And I’m grateful for your encouragement.”
That was an understatement.
The affirmation I received gave me energy for the rest of the day; I wanted to live up to my boss’s faith in me.
Previously, I’d worked for several different bosses, none of them as verbal in giving kudos. One supervisor, a financial wizard who saved our company from going under, repeatedly asked me to perform duties opposite my strengths, even after I asked—more than once—to be placed in roles better suited to my personality. Though he would throw a casual “thanks for all you’re doing” my way at times, I felt resentful that he didn’t respect my needs.
Another boss rarely said anything—unless it was a sarcastic jab after I’d messed up. “Doesn’t she understand that I tried to give my all?” I’d ask myself after yet another hurtful comment. Sure, I made mistakes, but I routinely felt frustrated that she seemed to take my attempts to do my best for granted.
Later, I reflected on how my different supervisors had managed their employees. Some led by fear and intimidation; others motivated through appreciation of efforts and gentle nudges toward improvement in weak areas.
At least for me, the second approach resonated more. In a recent Fast Company article, Howard Jacobsen asserts that making gratitude a habit in your workplace could actually be a helpful business strategy. The author of Proverbs seems to agree; according to chapter 16, verse 25 (New Life Version), “The man who gives much will have much, and he who helps others will be helped himself.”
I wondered: could more gratitude make a difference in the other places I serve? Maybe my kids would respond better to my requests if I spent more time thanking them for the ways they blessed me. Perhaps the women in my Bible study group would be more apt to share freely—and do their homework—if I sent them notes of gratitude when they participated in class. Would my Facebook and Twitter friends find blessing-counting contagious?
One thing’s for sure: it sure couldn’t hurt.
“Well, that’s all I had to say,” my supervisor said, smiling again. “Keep up the good work, Dena.”
“I will,” I replied, “and thanks again.” As I walked back to my cubicle, I sighed in relief.
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