“Ok, before we begin I want everyone to share something they are grateful for.”
“Oh, c’mon! There is something each of you are grateful for.”
“I’m grateful for my dog,” Amanda said.
“I’m grateful for my cup of coffee,” Alex said.
“I’m grateful for my mom because she makes the best burgers,” Tim said as he chuckles.
“I’m grateful for my two sons because they always make me laugh,” Sharon said.
“I’m grateful for my car,” Ben said.
You could feel the energy in the room pick up. People were smiling.
Starting a meeting with gratitude will help you pause and slow down before you start.
This pause will help reduce your anxiety and everyone’s in the room. It will help clear out the clutter and help people improve their listening skills. When you pause to be grateful it helps reduce a temptation to focus on something else that might distract us from something more important. We make smarter choices that will help our future selves instead of choices that satisfy our immediate needs. (1)
You might be thinking to yourself, there is no way I can get people to slow down and be more grateful before a meeting. We are too busy.
If that’s true then you may need this even more than other companies.
Your stress levels are probably very high and you aren’t thinking as clearly as if you were calm.
It’s important that you and your team are relaxed before the meeting begins. You’ll see that people are more focused and less likely to be checking their phones.
When you take the time to slow down and help people connect in different ways, you build a stronger culture. It’s important that you foster this at work. If you don’t, then we end up making work the only connection point and when that fails, people don’t treat each other very well.
It’s important that you help people connect from a positive space instead of negative. If your culture is built on negative experiences then this becomes the default connection point, and then people will rely on negativity when they don’t know what to share with each other.
You’ve probably experienced a connection with someone at work that came from a mutual dislike of another co-worker. You made fun of the co-workers clothes or lack of social grace. If this is the connection point you’ll find other people to dislike together.
Now if you can find a common positive connection point then this becomes the foundation of your relationship. You can always go back to talking about your kids, Yoga, or a really difficult project that you pulled through together in the past.
This connection builds a relationship that is built on trust and mutual respect. A negative connection point leaves people wondering if you do the same thing behind their back.
I suggest you start small. I would like to see if you could get everyone to pause and share one thing that they are grateful for. Most people agree to do it.
You can even start. You could give an example:
I’m grateful for my dog because she gets so excited when I get home. It’s the best celebration ever.
Now what is one thing you are grateful for?
Then just wait.
Someone usually chimes in. If no one does then just start the meeting. You’ll be surprised by how much the meeting will improve, even if you only share one statement of gratitude.
You’ll probably also notice that someone will come up and share something with you after the meeting that they didn’t want to bring up in front of everyone. That’s ok, some people are shy and you just have to lead the way. It’s these positive connections, based on positive experiences, that help build stronger relationships.
Check out when the next Bring Gratitude 30 Day Challenge begins. You can join us and start creating a grateful and resilient mindset.
Jeffrey Froh et al., “Gratitude and the Reduced Costs of Materialism in Adolescents,” Journal of Happiness Studies 12 (2011): 289-302, doi:10.1007/SI0902-010-9195-9