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How can you strengthen your relationships this holiday season? Show Gratitude

During this season of thanks, we should all sit back and reflect on what, and more importantly, for whom, we are grateful. 

According to psychologist Daniel J. Levitin:

“Gratitude is an important and often overlooked emotion and state of mind. Gratitude causes us to focus on what’s good about our lives rather than what’s bad, shifting our outlook toward the positive.” And, those “who practice gratitude simply feel happier.”

So, when you sit around the dining room table this holiday season, take a good look at the family and friends around you. Was the last Thanksgiving dinner the last interaction with them you can remember? Have you tried to engage in any meaningful conversation? How have the last few years impacted their lives? Are the same old family tensions pervading the conversation?  

The holiday season is a reminder for all of us to appreciate one another.

It’s a time to demonstrate our support and commitment to our family, friends, colleagues, and communities. 

By expressing gratitude and demonstrating empathy at work, we build a happier, healthier team. Put a lens of gratitude over everything you say, see and hear, and encourage others to do the same.

At the family table as well as in the office meeting room, you can be instrumental in easing tension and moving the conversation forward by sharing a grateful attitude with others.  Observe and listen before speaking. You may very well find yourself rethinking what you have to say. When interacting with others from a place of understanding and appreciation for their point of view, the conversation is naturally more enriching for all concerned. Gratitude motivates, and when others feel they have been treated with consideration, they tend to be more compassionate and willing to share.

Make gratitude part of your personal brand and lead with it.

When you are genuine, and lead by example, you build relationships based on trust and loyalty. This is key to building a team that will drive your business forward. Just like at the family holiday table, you need to be open and honest and ask others to share information about themselves, their experiences, needs, and wants. That’s when you get a glimpse into the personal drivers of others, connecting on a human level and setting a foundation on which you can start to build stronger relationships.

Every one of us got to where we are in life with the help of others along the way, but rarely do we slow down and take the time to thank those people for the small and not-so-small ways they improve our lives. Connections in our personal and professional lives have all impacted our life’s journey, and such alliances will not only help us achieve our goals but also energize us and create considerable goodwill.

Showing gratitude doesn’t always mean graciously accepting the opinions of others when you are certain something is wrong. Sometimes, you need to ruffle a few feathers to get others to listen.  A well-intentioned lively conversation could very well lead to the kind of disruption that is the catalyst needed for change. Sometimes we just need to dig in and express our opinion regardless of the potential reaction. Before doing so however, make sure you have truly listened to your family, friends, employees, customers, and others. Without actively listening, you will find it difficult to anticipate their reactions and expectations.

Making gratitude a habit means incorporating it into your day-to-day practice and that takes personal commitment. Think about what you can do and for whom you can do it every day. Gratefulness is an attitude. We need to express it and exchange it. In my experience, gratitude is the currency that builds trust and loyalty in our personal and professional relationships.  

Especially in difficult times, we can and should embrace and feel gratitude for what we do have—especially our relationships. After all, in times of crisis, it’s our relationships that keep us going. Our collective prioritization of gratitude for what we have, especially our relationships, is something we all need to celebrate.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of gratitude? Check out our blog, where we explore new topics regularly.

Originally posted on Forbes.com.

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