First Posted December 30, 2008.
After being curious about human relationships for over 30 years, I have not lost the impression that the last great untapped resource in organizations is the interaction of people. (Actually there are two that are untapped, the other is individual human potential for impact. Alas, that is for another day.)
For a moment, place yourself in an office where a sizable number of people work. Two things you'll see. One is people doing individual tasks. The second is people interacting with people. A typical work day is shifting from one to the other.
If you ask people what their job is, mostly likely they will tell you that it is the task work that they are doing. That is how they are measured to a large degree.
The problem with this is that the quality of human interaction is at a critical factor in how well businesses deal with change and economic downturns. We don't see our relationships in this way. They tend to be treated as secondary.
The Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Daniel Pink is a career guide. However, if you read it with an eye to understanding the human interaction in it, you'll learn some other lessons as well. This is part of the reason why I believe Saying Thanks, Every Day is the right 7th lesson for Johnny to adopt.
Johnny Bunko is an average guy who is stuck in the wrong job because he listened to well-meaning, but wrong career advice. A magical career guide named Diana appears to lead him through six lessons. There are however other people in the story who contribute in various ways toward Johnny finding his path. With each person, he has a legitmate reason to thank them. Let's do a run down.
You may think that this is pretty superficial gratitude. And it may be.
Saying thanks is not accumulative, it is transformative.
You can't store it. It can only be used to take a relationship to a new depth. Then you have to say it again.
The deeper our gratitude goes and is expressed, the deeper the relationship becomes. As a result, we have people in our lives who will go the extra mile when we need them to do so.
Saying thanks everyday is one way we explicitly live out lesson # 3 - It's not about you. Remember what Diana says to Johnny?
So I don't matter at all?
Of course you matter. But the most successful people improve their own lives by improving other's lives. They help their customer solve it's problem. They give their client something it didn't know it was missing. That's where they focus their energy, talent, and brainpower.
Outward, not inward.
Exactly. And you're not in this alone. Think about Lakshmi and Dave, or Carlos and Yuko. The most valuable people in any job bring out the best in others. They make their boss look good. They help their teammates succeed. So pull your head out of your ... ego. Then sit down with Dave and get back to work.
Every interaction in a business setting is a transaction. We are exchanging ideas, collaborating to make a difference that is needed. We agree to work together. Saying thanks completes the transaction.
But the transaction is much more. It is transformative. It changes things. When we express gratitude, we build trust. A person who is grateful for what I've done for them, is a person I trust because I understand that they see beyond their own self-interest. That is an important element in trust.
When then do we not see this? Why do we think that it is all about us?
One reason could be that we are in the wrong place, like Johnny. We aren't doing what we are gifted to do.
Another is that we are afraid, and self-centered, worried about tomorrow, and we think that I have to focus on my responsibilities to get through.
Or, we could think that it is about us, and therefore people are just objects in the way of getting what I want.
If an environment of gratitude is to develop in a business, there also has to be an atmosphere of welcome, of openness, that my gifts and talents have an opportunity to make a difference.
Lastly, we could be stuck in an organization that is poorly functioning.
Analyze where you are with the Circle of Impact Leadership Guides . Look at how thanks and welcome, gratitude and openness fit into the ideology, structure and relationships in your business. If they aren't fitting very well, then you have some indication for where to start to make changes.
Having reread Johnny Bunko to prepare this post, I'm more aware of the relationship dimension that is important to the story. I'm more convince that Saying thanks every day can create a revolution of thanks and welcome that transforms how our businesses function. It is one of the few certain keys to future success.
Please vote for Saying Thanks Every Day. Send a message to the world that gratitude and openness are the new rules of professional relationships. (Voting has closed.)