No One Claps When You Go to the Bathroom By Yourself

Parents go nuts when toddlers learn to use the potty. Twenty years later, no one claps when you go to the bathroom by yourself. 

Gratitude looks for extraordinary and goes blind to the ordinary.

Daily contributions get lost and go unacknowledged in a fog of daily demands and high expectations. Many leaders believe you shouldn’t thank people for doing their jobs.

Expressed gratitude is energy. Unexpressed gratitude is interpreted as ingratitude.

Why no gratitude:

We point out deficiencies and ignore adequacies. Deficiencies are like a single zit on an otherwise clear forehead. You can’t help staring at it. Bad is stronger than good.

We hold back gratitude for performance that doesn’t exceed last week’s. But think about it. Couldn’t performance always be better? In the end, you always withhold gratitude.

We silence gratitude when we’re asking for more. It’s difficult to show gratitude for today’s performance when you expect better performance tomorrow.

We withhold gratitude when we’re better than others. Suppose teammates arrive on time but you come in early and stay late. It’s invisible if it’s not extraordinary.

Day-to-day pressures blind us to essential qualities in our team members like grit, collaboration, and dependability.


Perhaps you feel uncomfortable showing gratitude. Invite people to brag to you. You could ask:

  1. What are you proud of when you think about the job you’re doing?
  2. Tell me about one of your accomplishments.
  3. What challenge or problem are you working to solve? Notice grit.
  4. What are you learning?
  5. What unnoticed contributions are you making?

Tip: Don’t tweak. Just pat on the back. Challenge them to reach higher on another occasion.

Affirm the behaviors you desire or they feel irrelevant to the people around you.

What gratitude practices make sense to you?