If being appreciative more often is one of your pesky New Year's resolutions, a Penn State Abington professor's research should provide a little extra motivation: Gratitude is a buy one, get one free proposition.
“Gratitude is not only good for the receiver, but it's also good for the sender, and it changes the relationship,” he said. “That's pretty interesting — the idea that you can transform your own feelings by sending gratitude to somebody else.”
“By expressing gratitude, we often broaden a relationship from being purely transactional and narrow to a more human level.” Ross Brinkert, associate professor of corporate communication
Brinkert, who researches the effectiveness of gratitude in the workplace, believes the element of surprise adds another beneficial layer.
“Expressions that come unexpectedly have a lot more weight than things that are expected,” he said. “A present that you get as a total surprise will have more meaning versus a present for your birthday. It's really important to make the opportunity to thoughtfully surprise people because that really stands out for them.”
Thoughtfulness can include a handwritten letter or card, which inherently carries more emotional weight than an email. Brinkert also notes that a bold, artistic, or personal creation often produces a memorable experience for the receiver. Examples are mailing a distinctive postcard or making or purchasing a handmade item.
“By expressing gratitude, we often broaden a relationship from being purely transactional and narrow to a more human level,” he said. “We're so busy with handling the day-to-day tasks and goals of our lives that we lose sight of how we interact with one another. I think gratitude opens that up and gives us a fresh perspective on things. ”