The CEO scheduled an off-site retreat for the leadership team. The tension and lack of trust hindered productivity. The declining economy added pressure to the already hard world of healthcare.
As I wrote the word “gratefulness” on the flip-chart, I ask, “How many words can you find?” They had some fun with the exercise as the competitive nature kicked in.
“Let’s focus on this word grate. What happens when you grate a carrot, a chunk of cheese?” I continued.
“Grating reduces a solid into fragments as it’s pushed against an abrasive surface.”
“Ever have someone get on our nerves? Their behavior “grates” on you? What happens when someone annoys you by his/her behavior?”
“It creates tension.”
“So, whose behavior grates on you? What actions irritate you?”
Quickly, someone responded, “Checking email during our meeting.”
“He clips his fingernails in public.”
“And then, there’s that person who drives the speed limit!”
With that, we began to explore how gratefulness impacts relationships.
More than a holiday
Gratefulness is obviously not just an annual holiday; it’s a character quality of successful people. CharacterFirst! defines gratefulness as “Letting others know by my words and actions how they have benefited my life.”
Let others hear what you’re grateful for with these three steps:
- Focus on others, see the person
- Communicate by words and actions
- Be specific
But wait, there’s more. Gratitude supports your total well-being. Consider these benefits from cultivating a spirit of gratitude in life.
- Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships.
- Grateful people also have higher levels of control of their environments, personal growth, purpose in life, and self-acceptance.
- Grateful people have more positive ways of coping with the difficulties they experience in life, being more likely to seek support from other individuals, reinterpreted and grow from the experience, and spend more time planning how to deal with the problem.
- Grateful people also have less negative coping strategies, being less likely to try to avoid the problem, deny there is a problem, blame themselves, or cope through substance use.
- Grateful people sleep better, and this seems to be because they think less negative and more positive thoughts just before going to sleep.
Where do you want to improve?
Creating space to think
I allowed the leadership team 5 minutes to express their gratitude 1on1 with each other. An interesting thing happened with the group of 9 leaders; the CEO requested more time for the activity, “I haven’t got around to everyone.”
“What just happened?” I asked to debrief the experience. The responses were insightful,
- “Awkward but rewarding.”
Here’s your exercise:
- Who is a source of frustration in your Story?
- What is one thing you appreciate about him/her?
- Stuck? Make your gratitude list first? (List seven or more.) Now, try again. What are you grateful for or what do you appreciate about the person you named in step one?
How will you improve your strained relationships?
Who will you call? Text? Or see today?
Here’s to your next level,
Image credit: StrangeJourney via flickr