Far too many of us these days are fantastic complainers.

When someone doesn’t meet our expectations, we let them know. We may even let their boss, their coworkers, their mother or everyone who will listen on social media know.

There’s nothing wrong with expecting excellence, and taking steps to get it.

The problem is, we as a culture tend to take excellence — and thoughtfulness, and kindness, and joyfulness — for granted.

When things go as we expect, we don’t even notice or acknowledge it.

Dennis Prager refers to this as the “broken tile” syndrome: look at a ceiling with one broken tile, and where is your eye naturally drawn? To the broken tile, of course. Not to the hundreds of whole ones.

Although we at Dogwood are relentlessly and unapologetically fussy about repairing broken tiles (literally and metaphorically), it bears keeping the big picture in in mind.

To see if this is true for you, think for a moment about your many contributions to the people around you. Do you get thanked enough for them? Does the gratitude-to-criticism ratio you experience feel right to you?

Where’s the compassion?

From pastors to parents, from cashiers to carpet cleaners, from architects to accountants – countless people suffer from GDD: Gratitude Deficit Disorder.

Despite all our good intentions and actions, we all tend to receive (and far too often give) much more flak than gratitude.

And yet, we are hungry for genuine appreciation and thanks.

We want to know that we matter, that our efforts are making the world a better place.

And so do your customers and vendors and coworkers and friends and family.

Think back on the past few years.

They’ve been tough for many of us, for many reasons.

What have your business associates done that you are truly thankful for? An extra phone call? A volunteer effort? Special customer service? An unsolicited referral or testimonial?

Between now and the end of the year, how can you communicate your appreciation? How can you fill the global hunger for gratitude? How can you catch people in the act of goodness?

Spend five minutes now making a list of people you are sincerely grateful towards. Then create an action plan to communicate your thanks, with no hidden agenda.

Real Gratitude, Not Opportunistic BS.

Gratitude is an art that creates higher and more sustainable level of business success. It also has the added benefit of increasing overall happiness.

Like all art forms, when it comes to deploying gratitude practice makes perfect!

We’re not talking about Boxing Day sales ads: “To thank you for your patronage, we’re giving you 10% off all XXXL purple dress shirts from now until we make our sales quota.”

No, we’re talking about honest, unselfish, respectful acknowledgment of another human being.

Actually, lets take that back… partly.

Living gratefully is probably the most selfish thing you can do. In the moments when you’re am bathed in gratitude, for a caring gesture or a spectacular autumn morning, you’ll feel phenomenal.

And you can take that selfishness even further: When people notice that you thank them for their efforts, they’ll naturally work even harder to please you in the future. They may even start thanking you for your good work!

Do you think it’s possible that communicating an attitude of gratitude in your business could actually make you more money? Remember the cardinal rule of business: “Find a need and fill it.”

3 Dimensions of Gratitude

Again, it’s important not to confuse gratitude with making huge displays of generosity, and certainly not with rewards programs. The latter two can be wonderful, but they are only two possible manifestations of gratitude – not gratitude itself.

Gratitude by definition is the quality of being thankful– possessing readiness to show appreciation and to return thanks. By practicing mindful gratitude, you can contribute to fostering a positive environment in the workplace.

  1. Be real

When expressing gratitude, provide an honest and meaningful compliment. When a compliment comes from a place of sincerity, it signals that you respect the person on the other end. It also allows others to lower their guard and develop trust, which is a key factor in employee satisfaction in the workplace. In fact, according to a SHRM report, “respectful treatment of all employees” was the number-one contributor to job satisfaction. And “trust between employees and senior management” was the second. These seemingly “soft” topics can have a hard return in engagement.

  1. Be specific

This ties into sincerity, but even sincere feedback can be vague. Make sure the compliment praises specific actions and behaviours rather than vague personality traits. This approach sets your team up for success down the line. For one, the specificity and focus will provide clarity around what behaviours and actions employees should replicate in the future. Secondly, according to Heidi Grant Halvorson: “Studies show that when we are praised for having high ability, it leaves us vulnerable to self-doubt when we encounter difficulty.” Therefore, by emphasizing actions (things you have control over) over ability, you are developing confidence in a sustainable way.

  1. Be humble

Proficient leaders understand that teaching and learning go hand-in-hand. They are aware that there is always room for growth and that there is as much to learn from their team as there is to teach. When practicing gratitude, express how your team has helped you grow as a leader. Maybe your employees have helped you improve your listening skills or how to best give feedback. Bottom line, by practicing humility your employees can feel empowered by the help they’ve given you, creating the cycle of a positivity and gratitude in the workplace.