"Measures of Gratitude" Episode 2 – Communicating Gratitude

November 9, 2021 Aaron Kinne

Measures of Gratitude podcast logoMike Lovett, sr. content marketing specialist at Workhuman®, continues , “Measures of Gratitude,” a podcast series in recognition of National Gratitude Month. In the debut episode last week, Emiliana Simon-Thomas – an expert on the key roles that social connection, support, and belonging play in well-being – took us on a deep dive into the meaning and impact that gratitude has on our work and personal lives.

This week, Elizabeth Stokoe, professor of social interaction at Loughborough University in the U.K., explores the pivotal role communication plays in fueling gratitude in our day-to-day interactions. As Mike sums it up, “Gratitude is a culmination of appreciation, which is a culmination of rapport, which is a culmination of effective communication.”

Here are some of the highlights from this week’s episode.

1. Effective communicators think about the person with whom they are communicating. This process is what conversation analysts call “recipient design,” according to Elizabeth. As a communicator, we need to shape our words thinking about the person with whom we are connecting. This, in her words, “creates a smooth, frictionless interaction as you move through it.”

2. Building rapport is more than just small talk. “People have often been trained to start a conversation with small talk – something to introduce themselves discussing topics that seem important for the upcoming interaction,” she noted. “But my research shows that rapport is the outcome of an encounter. It’s the outcome of a process, and you decide whether or not you’ve got rapport.”

3. Conversations are a “messy” process. Elizabeth likens a conversation to walking a dog who wants to take convoluted paths and detours in the course of its journey. In the same way, a conversation makes “messy” progress, even as it hits all the same “waymarks” and reaches the intended destination.

4. Choosing words carefully should be a fundamental part of an organization’s culture. “I think choosing words carefully – almost having that as a policy in an organization – has to be everything,” notes Elizabeth. “It’s so important. It can only make people feel much better about the organization, their workplace, and their colleagues.”

5. There’s no clear line between actions, talk, behavior, and language. “We have this idea that talking and words aren’t really doing anything, whereas actions and behaviors are,” observed Elizabeth. But to her, they are all the same thing. “If you think back to something unpleasant that happened at work, it probably happened through someone’s poor choice of words.”

6. How you say “thanks” matters. As Elizabeth sees it, communicating gratitude takes more than just a perfunctory “thanks.” True thanks are a more “fulsome expression of gratitude” that delineate the reason the person is being thanked. It punctuates a sense of gratitude for the other person’s action.

Want to learn more?

Here are some additional resources that explore the pivotal role communication plays in fueling gratitude in our day-to-day interactions.

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Thanksgiving Reflections: A Year of Gratitude

I called 2019 the “Year of Gratitude” in a recap of top gratitude blogs from 2019. In each post, the importance of communication comes to the fore.

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A critical element of building a human-centered culture is focusing on the manager-employee relationship, the center of which ongoing communication that emphasizes employee growth and development.

About the Author

Aaron Kinne

Aaron Kinne is a senior writer at Workhuman.

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