In the last lesson, we looked at some tips to be happier; in this lesson we will look at how you can create the right environment and culture of gratitude and positivity such that happiness, and helping and appreciating others, becomes the norm.
One legitimate question that may arise in your mind is why gratitude? In research by Martin Seligman and colleagues, it has been shown that writing a letter of gratitude and reading it to the person you are thankful to, is one of the most powerful positive psychology intervention to increase happiness. Given this, what can you do at your workplace to create a culture of gratitude?
- Thank you notes and emails: For starters, you can start your day be sending an email or a thank you note, to a peer or a colleague, thanking them in a specific and genuine manner. Ensure that you really mean it and try to thank a different person each day. Make it part of your daily email checking routine, getting that thank you note out first thing in the morning. Remember, this will not only make the other person happy, but boost your happiness a notch.
- Peer to peer recognition system: Many companies have formal employee recognition systems, some of them peer to peer based where you can recognize and reward a peer in a timely manner, with or without the approval of managers involved. Even if your company does not have a formal peer to peer reward and recognition system, you can send a public email or give a public speech recognizing the colleague at an appropriate moment. Again timely recognition from a valued colleague boosts happiness of the recipient at the same time creating ripple effects of happiness in the group.
- Positive 360 degree: Traditional anonymous 360 degree surveys sometimes leave bad taste in the mouth , when one receives critical, negative feedback, some of which people may have just given because of the cloak of anonymity to get back or from ulterior motives. Even when the feedback is genuine, because of its critical nature, it’s demotivating , though essential. The antidote? Welcome Positive 360 degree- a mechanism whereby people in a team give open, public feedback about a chosen person (the star of the week) about what positive qualities and strengths they observed in the person, what positive behaviors they witnessed or benefited from and so on. And of course all persons in the team get to be the star of the week, one time or the other. This tool helps the star of the week identify not only his strengths and positive qualities, but also builds a very positive and appreciative environment in the team.
- Gratitude jar/ wall: We all witness moments of appreciation when we want to thank the people in our lives and then again we feel moments of dejection when everything seems downhill. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have easy access to those moments of gratitude and positivity when we are feeling low? Welcome the gratitude jar. Keep it in your cubicle for personal use or in a meeting room for collective use. Whenever you feel thankful for something or someone, write down on a piece of paper and drop in the gratitude jar. Read from the gratitude jar, when feeling low or at the end of the year. Similarly, designate a whiteboard as a gratitude wall and encourage each other to write thank you notes on that wall; wipe ot clean from time to time and start afresh.
Above are some simple, but proven and effective, ways to create a culture of gratitude and happiness. In the next lesson we will learn how when we add meaning to the happiness equation, it leads to an exponential increase in productivity and all round outcomes.