The Attitude of Gratitude
By Stephen Garber
To paraphrase author Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Don’t say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.” When people think of you or me, what are the thoughts or feelings about the “thunder” they experience?
The holidays just passed. We were in the throes of commercialism—Christmas displays before Halloween, really?—during a time of reflection, celebration, family and friendship. Overeating, overindulging, seeing the family we love—or perhaps drives us crazy. These all make us who we are.
We are shaped by our families, identified by our friends, measured often by our accomplishments, and as healthy as our lifestyles. All of them make up our thunder—scary thunder, sharp thunder. Or rolling thunder, transformative thunder, thunder that makes people sit up and take notice of themselves, their situation, their impact or their world in a different way.
We live in truly thunderous times. We are bombarded by the bombastic 24/7. The noise locally, nationally and globally is loud and often scary. Many of us have become immune to that noise. We must be immune, for if we truly listen, it becomes deafening. And that lack of listening, the required tuning-out, truly can make us an unwitting part of the storm. So, let’s make what we are—our thunder—bring light.
This is a time of thanks, and a time for us to say big thank-yous. Writing the words, shaking hands and giving hugs (carefully, and with permission).
Thunderous applause and shy sweet smiles are the results of who we are – and can be.
The attitude of gratitude, while a cliché, is powerful. Giving thanks are the most powerful ways to create true prosperity and peace. As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I am grateful for what I am and I have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.”
What can we give? At work, we can give a few moments to connect with the people with whom we work, every day. ‘How are you?’ ‘How’s your mom?’ ‘How was your weekend?’ We can say thank you, every day. ‘Thanks for thinking of that detail. I’d have missed it.’ ‘Thanks for that powerful debate we just had. It made us better.’
We often bemoan the oxymoron that customer service can be in South Florida. Yet when the customer service representative comes on the telephone line, or stands in front of us, there are two magical phrases you can use: his/her name and “How are you?”
Customer service reps are trained to ask how we are. But watch what happens when you use his/her name and say, “It’s been an OK day so far, Joseph. How’s your day going?’ The rapport, attitude, and service will invariably change.
With the new year upon us, let’s say “thank you” large and small. It will serve us well at home, work and in the community.♦
Stephen Garber is director of Third Level Ltd. Contact him at 561.752.5505 or firstname.lastname@example.org.