A contagious thank you

By Annette Martinelli, HR Director

Thursdays at 8pm is my new favourite time. I absolutely love seeing the whole village come into the street (maintaining our generous 2 metre distance of course!) to clap, cheer, whoop, bash pots, pans and whistle with the sole purpose of showing gratitude to our amazing NHS workers. It’s such a powerful, emotional experience and one that hopefully means something to not only the NHS staff who hear it, but to everyone taking part. Saying thank you to these people amongst our small group of friends and neighbours is an undistilled, basic and pure emotion and gets me every time.

That raw emotion reminded me how good it feels to be on the receiving end of a thank you. I was really touched and surprised by a recent meeting and thank you I received from a friend and colleague I’d not seen for a few years. I’d worked with Sarah Aspinall about 12 years ago but out of the blue she got in touch and asked to meet up. It was lovely to see her again and catch up over a cuppa and cake, but she dropped in that she actually had an ulterior motive for asking to meet up. ‘Uh oh’ I caught myself thinking for a disappointed split second, but then she told me that she wanted to thank me for the guidance and support I’d given her in her early career when we’d worked together. I was stunned. That someone would go to such an effort to simply say thank you for what, in my mind, was doing my job as a manager, colleague and friend, totally caught me off guard. This, 12 years afterwards, blew me away and gave me that same strong emotional feeling. You can see a trend here!

So, it got me thinking about the power of these two simple words. If they make us feel so good (and yes emotional) to both give and receive them, why don’t we say them more?

As parents, it’s one of the first things we teach our babies. ‘Say ta’ as we’re giving them a chocolate biscuit (or a carrot flavoured rice cake in my poor kids’ case!). As they grow older this soon transitions to the ‘What do you say?’ auto-response, when they don’t reply as you hand them a mini Mars bar (apple flavoured rice cake). Eventually, over the years though, this instills the good manners in our kids that make us proud parents.

Thank you is also often one of the first key words that we learn and remember in a foreign language – merci, danke, grazi, gracias. Followed closely by biere, vin, cerveza etc.

We all know how to say it and as a nation of well-mannered Brits we’re all very good at the polite reflex ‘thank you’ response. But I’m talking about the heartfelt Thank You. The ones that mean something, that really show our appreciation and gratitude. We all feel it towards people inwardly and I’m sure if you sit for a minute you could list out a bunch of people that you are truly grateful to but haven’t yet told them.

So why don’t we?

Here comes the science part….

These two simple words actually have the power to improve your health, success and happiness.

Research shows that grateful people are happier and more likely to maintain good friendships. A state of gratitude, according to research by the Institute of HeartMath, also improves the heart’s rhythmic functioning, which helps us to reduce stress, think more clearly under pressure, and physically heal. It’s now understood that it’s physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time. When you are grateful, you flood your body and brain with emotions and endorphins that uplift and energize you, rather than the stress hormones that drain you.

Gratitude and appreciation are also essential for a healthy work environment. In fact, the number one reason why people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. A simple thank you and a show of appreciation can make all the difference. A real thank you makes a big difference.

Cue seamless link to my workplace thank yous…

We have recently launched our company vision and values and I often feel that in times of crisis such as these, it really tests what your company is made of and if it’s true to its values. At Estio I’ve witnessed many excellent examples of our working as ‘One Strong Team’ value over the past few weeks. Those who have enabled us to work remotely, those furloughed graciously at this difficult time, those continuing to work but isolated alone, juggling kids/dogs/parents/partners. To all at Estio – a heartfelt thank you and I know we will emerge from this a stronger team.

My final thoughts are that gratitude is like building muscle. The more we do it the stronger it gets. I’m going to make a conscious effort every day to regularly show appreciation and gratitude to those around me. The recent 8pm Thursday clap also shows that gratitude is contagious. The more we see people do it, the more we join in and do it too. Sarah who thanked me, prompted me to not only write this article, but also to reach out and thank the people who have made a difference to me. So in this time of worldwide turmoil we have a chance to not only be grateful for everything we’ve got but also to tell those people who have positively influenced us in some way, what they mean to us using two simple words.

Thank you for reading. I’m off to get emotional!