“Thank you for sticking with the project,” my client’s partner said to me.
There were a dozen reasons for me to give up.
I stuck with it because my client’s partner reached out to me to thank me.
You are our fourth web designer that we worked with. You are the only one that has made it this far.
It made my day.
He saw how hard I had been working to keep this project moving forward and he wanted me to know how much he appreciated it.
It was a very difficult project because my client (CFO in the company) lacked a clear direction. He would see something shiny in someone else’s website and want it for his website.
I had to be open about my frustrations and make sure we locked down version one before we moved on. I explained that we could do version two eventually, but we needed to get version one launched and learn from it before we started on the next version.
After that conversation we both clearly understood what was expected of each other.
I probably would have left the project if it wasn’t for his partner. His compliment kept me focused on setting proper expectations.
That was my biggest takeaway from the whole situation. A 15 minute conversation had the power to change how I work with people. It helped me pause and appreciate the project for what it was and not what I wanted it to be.
He knew he couldn’t get another designer to help his company with the site. He needed me to work out so he could finally get the site launched.
I decide to write down why I was grateful for the difficult client:
- I was grateful for him because he paid well and my family needed the money.
- I was grateful for the conversation with his partner that showed me the power of showing heartfelt appreciation. This would never have happened if I didn’t stick with the project.
- I was grateful for him because it showed me that I needed to be more clear with my expectations of the project.
Next time you are struggling in a relationship at home or work, try writing down 3 things you are grateful for about that person.
Share Gratitude Journal
Start with keeping a journal about people you enjoy. Then extend it to people you struggle with.
Writing down your gratitude for someone difficult will help you relax and appreciate them for who they are and not what you want them to be.
This practice will expand your ability to understand other people’s emotions and appreciate them. You will also allow yourself to expand your perspective of them.
They can’t hurt you if you are able to appreciate them.
Appreciation encourages empathy. If you can empathize with someone then they stop being just a “bully” or a “weirdo”. They become someone that you want to understand better, and your curiosity takes over.
The next step is sharing gratitude with people. I started by sending my mom a quick email, thanking her for all her support. She’s been there for me throughout my life and she’s always willing to listen.
I then sent my wife a text telling her that I love her.
I thanked someone in a private Facebook group that I’m a part of.
I got energized.
As I’ve gotten better at sharing gratitude, I noticed a few key elements.
3 Pillars of Sharing Gratitude:
- Sincere – Do they believe that you mean it?
- Appropriate – Are you fully aware of the situation and the person you are talking with? How do you let them know that you appreciate them?
- Specific – Do they understand what they did well and why it mattered to you?
If you can nail these three pillars then you can make someone’s week and build stronger relationships. These strengthened relationships will have the greatest impact on your career and home life.
Dr. David Desteno, Professor at North-Eastern University, showed that when a team member feels proud of their work, they will work 30% longer on a project.
When we are able to build relationships through honest encouragement, we help others build confidence. This confidence will help us get the best out of our teams.
Well Delivered Gratitude
Our default action is to give thanks to someone soon after they help us. This is good, but there is a second part.
We need to thank someone after we’ve seen how their help impacted us. For example when someone gives you advice on your resume and you implement that change. Of course thank them for their help, but when you get that next job you wanted this is a perfect time to deepen the relationship by explaining how it helped you land your new job.
It shows them that you truly cared about their help and it reinforces that they are a brilliant friend. Our inner bullies can overwhelm us at different times. This includes our friends. This is when your message of thanks a few weeks later could help reinforce their positive view of themselves. We could all use this from time to time.
I had an old boss that knew when to give me gratitude. He could see when I was down or could use a boost.
When you share gratitude at work you show people how they are playing a unique role in your life.
This is important for managers. If you explain why they are being helpful then you help your employees see that their efforts are contributing to a larger purpose.
When you start a sharing gratitude journal, remember this journal is just for you. It’s to help you build your Sharing Gratitude muscle to make it easier when you are ready to reach out to others. It makes it easier to remember what you are grateful for and it helps you be more specific when you are ready to share gratitude with others.
When you’re ready to start try a direct message, just one or two sentence each week to a friend, coworker or family member. Watch the reaction. Most of the time, you’ll get a very appreciative response. Remember to focus on just being honest and with no strings attached. They’ll see that you are just showing appreciation and it will help you build a stronger relationship with them. You’ll make them feel great and you’ll also give yourself a boost of dopamine as well. It’s a win-win for both of you.
The hard part is remembering to send out your appreciation on a regular basis, so try to make a daily or weekly routine around this practice.
Thursdays are my Sharing Gratitude Day. I usually send out my gratitude to people on a certain day because I like doing this all at once. It’s my day for Sharing Gratitude with the people that matter to me in my life. I set a calendar reminder to email, message or call three to five people every week. I’ll start by writing down 5 people and a quick idea of what I want to say to them. Once I have the 5 people and a short note written down then it’s just typing the message in a text message, on social media, in an email and sending it. It’s just getting the momentum going then you almost can’t help but send it. You’ve done all hard work and you want them to hear how awesome they are.
If they don’t reply back don’t get discouraged. The idea is to give without any need for reciprocation. This helps you build your giving muscle. It’s one of the most important aspects of a healthy and purposeful life.
If you want to build your grateful mindset foundation, I would suggest starting with surrounding gratitude. We have another 30 Day Bring Gratitude Challenge coming up that focuses on the foundation of gratitude. Come join us! You get an amazing community of people supporting each other.
- For more on what best motivates us, see: Deci, E. L. (1996). Why We Do What We Do. New York: Penguin.