Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough are the editors of the 2004 Oxford University press research article “The Psychology of Gratitude”. In Robert Solomon’s introduction to their research, he tells us that gratitude is one of the most neglected emotions and one of the most underestimated of the virtues. Gratitude is a virtue like honesty, hard work ethic or compassion. If we possess it, we lead with humility and people see us as leaders who value their contribution to life or to the achievement of particular goals. The German theologian Dietrick Bonhoeffer wrote, “In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”

While I do not intend to review the obvious spiritual quality of gratitude, when we think of an environment of grateful people we realize what Streng says in his introduction to the research paper, Thanksgiving as a Worldwide Response to Life. With a grateful “attitude people recognize that they are connected to each other in a mysterious and miraculous way that is not fully determined by physical forces, but is part of a wider, or transcendent context.”

How Gratefulness Benefits Your Salespeople

Now, let’s turn to leading salespeople.  Selling well is difficult.  It requires courage and self-reflection and adjustments to criticism in the face of rejection. Its success necessitates perseverance in the face of obstacles, going beyond what’s expected, following a process, serving the needs of others and being responsive to coaching. These attributes are personal choices, and it’s easy to see why the behaviors of sales leaders are a major cause of low production and turnover. 

Those that leave sales often say in exit interviews, 

“I felt like a number.”

“My manager only cared about HIS bonuses – HIS income.”

“I was depressed by my manager’s attitude and lack of appreciation.”

It’s interesting that in a study of Gratitude and Happiness and Subjective Well-Being, the authors Watkins, Woodward, Stone and Kolts found that depression increases when gratefulness decreases. That’s seems obvious … right?  Never thank, praise, or appreciate others and they become depressed or negative around you. This includes your family members and your sales reps. This even happens with sports teams. The overall well-being of others who experience a lack of gratitude decreases with levels of selfish attitudes in parents, coaches and sales leaders.

You can change this…

You can change this now!

Shawn Achor, in his Ted Talk, The Happy Secret to Better Work, said this, “If you can raise a sales rep’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences what we now call a happiness advantage, which is your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral or stressed. A sales rep’s intelligence rises, his or her creativity rises, energy levels rise. In fact, researchers found that every single business outcome improves. A person’s brain at positive is 31% more productive than a brain at negative, neutral or stressed. People are 37% better at sales. Doctors are 19 percent faster, more accurate at coming up with the correct diagnosis when positive instead of negative, neutral or stressed.”

When explaining how to do this, Shawn says this about being grateful, “We’ve found there are ways that you can train your brain to be able to become more positive. In just a two-minute span of time done for 21 days in a row, we can actually rewire your brain, allowing your brain to actually work more optimistically and more successfully. We’ve done these things in research now in every company that I’ve worked with, getting them to write down three new things that they’re grateful for … for 21 days in a row, three new things each day. And at the end of that, their brain starts to retain a pattern of scanning the world not for the negative, but for the positive first.”

So, everyone, here are three suggested actions for the Christmas and holiday season,

  1. Write down what you’re grateful about … yes, make a list.
  2. Every morning, wake up and add 3 things to the list.
  3. During each day, thank, praise or put your appreciation into words and say them to 3 people.

Give out praise and appreciation for 21 days in a row.  Do it with your reps, your children, your friends, those that serve you in restaurants, and I promise you will feel and see a difference. Your performance and those of others will improve and you will create one important part of a better life and culture for those you lead and influence.

Thank you for listening to my podcasts and reading my blogs. Thank you for sharing them with others.  Thank you for helping me get better. I appreciate all of you. Now go get better yourself and make life better for others … and …

Merry Christmas!

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