Over the years there have been many studies to explore the benefits of gratitude and the impact it has on our happiness. Some of these studies have been on content, happy and healthy people and others focusing on people who were struggling with their mental health, and in fact many undergoing counselling – both groups concluded that gratitude improves mental health.
Showing or actively working on gratitude has been shown to lead to increased concentration, enthusiasm, optimism, satisfaction and happiness, as well as improved sleep and better relationships. The act of reflecting on the good experiences helps to build up our Mental Fitness for times of future stress.
However, we don’t often think of gratitude as a coaching skill, yet when we ask our coachee to focus on what has been achieved rather than what obstacles still lies ahead, they invariably build on their confidence. Being grateful for simple steps and small outcomes helps to slowly build up the bigger, confident image or intention we are working towards.
A Gallup study in 2018 found that 88% of people confirmed that expressing gratitude to colleagues made them feel happier and more fulfilled and 81% went on to say, they would work harder if their boss showed them gratitude. An experiment in Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that within two groups of fundraisers, those that were shown gratitude for their efforts made 50% more fundraising calls compared with their counterparts. The evidence for positive praise, encouragement and reinforcement within a working context is startingly clear – we just need to do more of it!
The key to showing gratitude in a coach-approach relationship is:
1. Be grateful for who they are and not what they’ve done – often we focus on the task or the output of someone and fail to mention what they had to overcome, do differently or even be willing to fail and learn from
2. Gratitude isn’t a one size fits all – great coaches and managers understand that some people like the public accolade and others shy away from it. So, knowing the best and most personal way to show appreciation for each person, is important. And if you don’t know – ask them!
3. Consistency – unlike Christmas, being grateful doesn’t just come once a year, nor can you simply schedule it in per coaching session or meeting. There needs to be a clear and consistent intention of expressing gratitude in your working relationship.
However, some psychologists push back about showing too much gratitude and appreciation for what we’re going through, suggesting that turning everything rosy isn’t helpful and reduces the ability to discern fact from fiction. Like anything, there has to be a clear intention as well as a balance between what we are grateful for, and what we can learn. Again, that’s where great coaching comes in, supporting the coachee to really uncover the learning, reflect on the situation and to discover what newfound skills they’ve unearthed as a result of what we’re just going through.
The key to blameless discernment and reflection on our learning is:
1. Stepping back to see the bigger picture – we need to remove ourselves from the emotion of the situation and see it from a place of ‘blameless discernment’ where we can notice and facts of what happened and didn’t happen, all without assigning blame.
2. Look for the solutions not the fault – when we look for our mistakes, we find them and it’s equally true, when we place our attention onto a more solution-focused approach we’ll uncover how we can do something better or differently next time.
3. Be kind to yourself – as Brene Brown would say: ‘you are good enough’ – right now, as you are and even tomorrow. Yes, we want to improve ourselves, but from a place of compassion and understanding and not from a perpetual beating based on our failures. In other words, showing ourselves some appreciation and gratitude for who we are, as well as what we’ve achieved.
So, love it or loath it – there is a place for more gratitude in our lives as well as more opportunities to explore blameless discernment, especially within the workplace. Now it’s up to you to simply decide, when, where and how much more you could be doing.
And don’t worry, as if you’d like some assistance – why not get in touch and book a free one to one coaching session with Kate and explore gratitude and self-appreciation for yourself.