The Necessity of Giving Gratitude at Work

My friend Rob told me that his co-worker complained about every little thing. It dragged him down. If someone left work early he would chime in. If someone didn’t send him the right format on a report he would grumble. No one went the extra mile for him because he would always find a way to complain about something.

Do you know anyone like this?

People complain at work because they focus on the “lack” instead of the “joy” that they get from their job. They do this for a number of reasons:

  • They don’t feel appreciated by their boss.
  • They’ve skewed their expectations of what they really want out of their job.
  • They don’t feel appreciated by their co-workers.
  • They aren’t happy with the work they are doing.


Instead of trying to change these feelings, people perpetuate them through complaining. However, we have the ability to change this way of thinking.

Give Gratitude

It can be as simple as a “thank you” to a co-worker who helped you on a project or gave you good advice. Those two words can increase your happiness because they trigger two parts of your brain: the nucleus accumbens and the caudate nucleus, which are both associated with being rewarded. Furthermore, by giving a thank you to someone else you will also send good feelings throughout yourself.

You don’t necessarily need to hear a “thank you” or “you rock” from a co-worker first before giving a compliment to them. When you give the gratitude first, you can start a chain reaction. You will feel good, the person who gets the compliment will feel great and the people who work close to both of you will also feel happier because work happiness is contagious.

Anita Fontana wrote an article titled, “How to Cultivate Gratitude in the Workplace.” She talks about the importance of fostering an attitude of giving appreciation freely.

“With the power of gratitude and appreciation at your disposal, you can transform a negative atmosphere into a new spirit of appreciation in your office, empowering people, bringing enthusiasm and satisfaction back into their work and building strong bonds between employees.”

That’s a recipe for success. It works because we create an abundant mindset that focuses on the good things in our working lives instead of complaining about what we wish we had.

I’ve been guilty of complaining at work and I actually challenged myself to stop complaining at work (and at home) for 30 days. I watched how negative I could be and how it affected my work. I realized that I needed to become more thankful for my co-workers and my ability to accomplish good work.

We all need to cultivate gratitude in the office in order to create an enjoyable atmosphere.

The benefits go beyond feeling good. When we feel grateful we also:

  1. Strengthen Our Immune System – It naturally increases our antibodies.
  2. Improve Brain Functions – We stay more focused and are less likely to slip into a depression.
  3. Relax – Our heart rate lowers which helps regulate blood pressure.
  4. Become More Productive – People who are grateful toward others are actually better at their jobs.


Stephen Post, PHD wrote about the importance of feeling grateful for all the good people and work in our lives. Check out his article and learn about the importance of being more grateful at work and at home.

What can you do to feel more grateful?

Create a Compliment Schedule

Most of the time we get too caught up in our own work and forget to thank our co-workers for all their hard work. You may want to create a schedule and put it on your calendar. Most computer calendars allow for reminders. I used to set mine to ping me at 3:00 every afternoon. If I haven’t complimented someone by that time I make sure that I find someone and give them a compliment. This has become a habit that’s improved my work relationships.

Ask Someone If They Could Use Some Help

There’s nothing like bringing a little appreciation into your life by offering to help someone. I love the looks I get from co-workers. The funny thing is they usually say no, but they always appreciate my offer.

Give a Compliment and Really Watch What Happens

I’ve seen a co-worker give another co-worker a compliment and they were too embarrassed to watch the results. I always enjoy the person’s expression. Every time I give a compliment I watch the results and try to make mental notes. It’s a way for me to revel in the goodness. Sometimes I'll get such a surprised reaction that they just don't know what do do with the words that just came out of my mouth (see photo above). The experience of gratitude is just so much fun.

Make a Co-Worker Appreciation List

Some of us don’t like to throw around compliments. I understand. I hate when I get a disingenuous compliment. I would prefer if they hadn’t said anything at all. But that doesn’t mean we can’t give silent thanks to the co-workers in our lives. Take ten minutes and write a compliment for every person in your department or your whole company. Even if you don’t deliver it, this exercise will pick up your spirits.

What do you do to show appreciation? Do you prefer to give a gift or maybe a pat on the shoulder? I would also like to know what was your favorite compliment form a boss or a co-worker?

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Image Courtesy of smileygeekgirl