“All people want to feel needed and appreciated,” she says. “We’re social beings by nature, this is hard wired into our brains: that we’re social and we care what other people think. That we care we’re included and that we are of value to our group.”
Past studies on the human mind have concentrated on negative feelings — depression, anxiety and stress — but the new field of positive psychology lists gratitude as one of our strengths and virtues, says Lechner. To have any value, however, those thankful feelings have to be genuine, though that’s a matter of focus, she says.
At work, even when projects are challenging or the boss is difficult, identify things to appreciate — clean restrooms, a steady paycheck — simply by keeping a journal.
Then be sure to express your thanks in simple ways, says Lechner. Tell the boss, “I appreciated it when you __” or “Thank you for __”
“Don’t drive the point home too much,” Lechner warns. “That’s the point when people think you’re brownnosing.”
Even if your colleagues do accuse you of sucking up, don’t be surprised if you see them doing the same in a few weeks, says April Kelly, CEO of Boss Studios in Omaha, Neb., and author of Gratitude at Work. Sure, no one will be alerted if you send a text like Duran. But also consider poking your head in your boss’ office when the door is open and say one or two succinct sentences before departing.
“Everyone needs to know when they’re hitting their target,” says Kelly. “And that includes bosses. It’s lonely at the top.”
This is one of an occasional series of columns by Miamian Brett Graff, a former U.S. government economist who writes about how economic forces are affecting real people.