When you’re at your most vulnerable, you hope your nurse will be compassionate and empathetic. But what about when you’re closing a business deal or ironing out the details of a contract?
I spent 12 years as a labor and delivery nurse before pivoting to my role as a VP of business development, and I’ve found the same levels of compassion, empathy, and gratitude are just as important in the conference room as they are in the delivery room. My nursing journey started as a desire to take care of people, and that same attitude has been incredibly helpful in roles that benefit from emphasizing building relationships. The truth is, without strong relationships, you won’t find much success – and without an inviting and appreciative demeanor, you won’t reach the same depths.
As we enter a new year, many of us are looking at ways to support success in our professional lives as we create new strategies, quarterly plans and goals. I’m a big believer in the power of gratitude to not only transform your personal life, but to invigorate and expand your business relationships. It’s something that’s incredibly beneficial for each and every one of us. Our success is rarely achieved alone – it’s the result of clients and customers who have supported us and colleagues who have played a role in our endeavors. When expressed in a personalized and authentic way, gratitude has the ability to create a better client experience, show customers how much you value them, and create a bond between the giver and receiver.
Expressing gratitude often gets lost in the day to day, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few strategies for leveraging gratitude to set yourself up for success in the year ahead:
Attention to Detail
A great way to show someone you care and that you’re actually listening is to pay close attention when they’re speaking and bring up points from past conversations in the present one. This means making note of important dates within your network, paying attention to the things they love or are interested in, and using mutual interests to build connections. Pay attention to the items they keep in their workspace – a mug from their alma mater, a favorite brand of candle, or photos from their kids’ sports teams. All these things can come together to create a perfect opportunity to show you care by sending them a personalized gesture of gratitude on a day that’s important to them. Keeping tabs on these little details can go an incredibly long way in strengthening your relationships.
Support Your Network
A strong network can be a lifesaver in tough times, but you can’t expect to build a healthy network without putting in the work. The more you share your talents and help people out when you have the opportunity, the more likely they are to lend a hand when you’re in a tough spot. This shouldn’t be transactional, it should be motivated by your desire to do the right thing. When people know they can rely on you without having to keep track of when they “owe you one,” you create a genuine connection with the people who can help you find success.
Build It Into Your Schedule
My personal favorite gratitude practice is setting a chunk of time each week to sit down and think about the people you want to thank in your life. For me, it’s a 30-minute meeting with myself on Friday mornings. Your first time doing this might be difficult or feel like a chore in some ways, but the key is continuing to do it. Eventually, you start sending genuine thank you’s, you get the satisfaction of sending them, and the more you do it the more you create a habit. It becomes something you look forward to because it’s enjoyable – and your recipients get a great reminder of how much you appreciate them.
Showing gratitude isn’t merely about the act of sending a coffee or a thank you note, it’s about the thought behind it. Take the time to think about why you’re doing something rather than just checking it off the list and it will come across as more meaningful to your recipient.
Pleasantly surprising someone can make a big impression on them, so remember to be intentional year-round and not just during the holiday season. People may be expecting a little pick-me-up towards the end of the year, but in late January when everyone is busy putting their plans into action a simple act of gratitude can still go a long way. A seemingly random, thoughtful gesture that isn’t associated with something you want could be a week’s worth of coffee to help your colleague through a busy week or a night off from cooking when you know their personal calendar is getting jam-packed. These little surprises will be meaningful to your recipient, and you have the opportunity to make their day.
I am incredibly grateful for the relationships I’ve been able to create throughout my career and value all of them – from the people who feel like family to the person I see in line at the local coffee shop each week. Be kind to people, spread goodwill, and assume good intent from the people you meet, because you never know when you’ll see them again. I try to teach my kids these lessons about taking the high road in life, because you might be surprised at the way the people along the way can enrich your life. Remember, those people aren’t just in your personal worlds, they’re also in the offices and boardrooms and Zoom calls you’re a part of every day. What goes around most certainly comes around. A little bit of gratitude doesn’t just make the world a nicer place, it fuels everything from reputation to likability, key factors to powering the kind of relationships that will support your career and business endeavors for years to come.