Gratitude: The Neglected Key to Better Performance

One of the first things we are taught to say is “thank you.” Why? Because it is imperative to foster good will, especially in a polite society, and expressing thanks is a great way to ensure goodwill in the future.

Criticism is a process of giving either constructive or destructive advice with regard to performance. Like a hammer, it’s a tool, and like that hammer, it can be used to build, or demolish. Used well, it gives someone the means to do a better job next time. Used poorly, it can cause a reduction in performance, to the point of failure.

Disparate topics to bring into a single essay? Not at all. These two should always go hand in hand. Let me explain.

When a job is done, there is always a sense of accomplishment, no matter how small a job it might have been. Accomplishment is generally accompanied by a feeling of pride. Suppose someone comes along who doesn’t quite like how something was done. This person just wants to give some “good” advice, and so begins to state everything that is wrong with it. It should have been done this way; this part goes over here, why did you put it there? Now the pride starts to go down, and the defensiveness goes up. Even if the person in question is giving good, constructive criticism, that message may not be received.

Let’s take the same scenario and the same people, with one twist. Instead of the criticism starting immediately, the person says, “Thank you,” or maybe “Thank you for doing this.” The one who has done the job feels like their efforts are appreciated. Now, the constructive criticism begins. The message, if put well, may begin a dialogue of improvement. Even if the “worker” doesn’t take that advice, (s)he won’t mind getting it nearly as much.

Is criticism necessary? Yes. Like I said, it’s a tool, and every job can be done better. But how to best go about it, that’s the question.

If you find yourself in a position to give criticism, firstly bear in mind how you would feel if you had done the work. Now ask yourself if the person who did the task really did have to do it, or was (s)he just being helpful. If they didn’t have to do it, and you go right into criticizing it, you can be sure that they won’t be as enthusiastic about doing it in the future. Like having your other half make the bed in the morning? Like it when they empty the dishwasher? Think about it.

What if they are doing their job? It is their job after all, and you want them to do the best they can, especially if you are the boss. Do you really want to create a scenario that at worse degrades their performance, and at best yields no improvement whatsoever?

Adding gratitude in both of these situations is the key that turns the result from a negative to a positive. Always, and every time, start with “thank you” and you will see receptiveness and positivity. Make sure you mean it; it’s very important to mean it when you say “thank you.” They may not seem to follow your advice right away, humans are creatures of habit, but they will heed your words and may do better after all.

“Thank you.” Gratitude is such an important part of our language. Don’t take it granted.

Article by Ignacio Ceja

I subscribe to the Maslovian concept of man as scientist. I’ve been working on myself for years, slowly and delightedly learning what makes me tick, and I’m certain that I’ve not even scratched the surface. I am pleased to present articles based on what I’ve learned in hopes that they inspire you toward your own delightful greatness!

Leave a Reply