Is it hard to show gratitude for a good turn done?

Be kind and considerate to others and they are more likely to be the same with you

Barry Shannon
Try and go a full day where you leave everyone you meet with the impression of increase - including the person in the coffee shop who gives you your cappuccino take out (Maksym Belchenko/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Have you ever heard of the ‘impression of increase’? Maybe not. It’s a concept written about by Wallace Wattles a fair old time ago, in his book ‘The Science of Getting Rich’.

In essence, Wattles suggests that all people are searching for some form of increase in their lives, whether that’s things like more food, clothing, space, money, better health or simply happiness.

Now before you think I’m starting down some spiritual pathway towards wealth accumulation or about to launch into a sales pitch, that’s not the case.

A key element of what Wattles wrote about is the idea that you will personally and practically benefit if you can leave those around you feeling better than they did before they met you. You may see the return to yourself arrive emotionally, mentally or in some other form of tangible physical output; there are many ways you can benefit.

In practice, how do begin to do this though (and is it difficult)?

Well, no; it can actually be extremely easy to do in everyday life and it doesn’t have to be solely composed of big gestures, dramatic actions or some form of massive personal sacrifice. Is it hard to show gratitude, maybe by simply saying ‘thanks’, for a good turn done?

Of course not. Could you control yourself into not honking your horn if someone cuts into your lane on the motorway? Sure you could. You can easily let them enjoy their small victory or better still, let them into your lane in the first place. Can you make someone a cup of tea, do the dishes, walk the dog, take the bins out? 100% you can. It’s easy to say yes to a small job when asked (maybe even better when not), or maybe simply telling someone ‘well done’.

How does that apply to work you might ask. Well, very simply, people will almost always want more at work too. Whether that’s someone to talk with and help generate ideas, maybe it’s about creating more space and time for themselves or perhaps it’s about money, achievement, titles or personal development.

We may not be able to provide all of these, all the time, but we can certainly find a way to leave everyone we meet over the course of a day at work feeling a little better having met us.

You can express gratitude for any assistance you have received. You can give some time of your own to sit and listen to a colleague’s issues. You can try to help solve their work problem or take some of the burden and practically help them get their work finished on time.

You could be a sounding board for ideas, you could support them in a meeting, you could teach them how to do something they don’t understand, you could just simply even just step back from criticizing someone’s ideas in front of others. You can crack a few jokes or engage in some small talk, make people feel you are interested in them as human beings, not just as fellow employees. There are loads of things you can do to make people feel better for having spent time with you.

And what do you get back? Plenty.

Be kind and considerate to others and they are much more likely to be the same with you. Maybe when you are perhaps feeling vulnerable or unhappy they will be there to support you or cheer you up. Help others with work and they will be much more likely to reciprocate when you ask and give you a hand. Getting yourself a reputation or inspiring a feeling in others that you are a good person to be around will mean others are much more disposed to helping you.

Why? Because you made them feel better about themselves, you left them with the impression of increase.

So, all that being said, here’s a challenge for you.

Try and go a full day where you leave everyone (and I mean everyone) you meet with the impression of increase.

The person in the coffee shop who gives you your cappuccino take out. The person looking to nip in front of you to the last parking spot. Your waiter in a café at lunchtime. The various work colleagues you have meetings with throughout the day. Your wife, son, daughter, husband, significant other, parents, friends, neighbours: whoever you interact with that day. Even the speculative sales person who phones, trying to flog you insurance, or whatever other thing you definitely don’t need right now. It doesn’t matter who.

Barry Shannon
Barry Shannon

See how they react, how they respond to you and how that makes you feel. I’d be surprised if both you and they don’t get something out of the exchange. Feeling a little better about life, if nothing else.

It’s easy to try, but can be difficult to maintain. We all have bad days, we can all be irritable. But the more you practice this, the more you should be able to keep doing it. The more you give, the more you typically get. Always remember - how you react is a choice.

  • Barry Shannon is head of HR at STATSports