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:
- What are you proud of when you think about the job you’re doing?
- Tell me about one of your accomplishments.
- What challenge or problem are you working to solve? Notice grit.
- What are you learning?
- 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?
The title of this post is perfect and will make for a great illustration at a meeting someday. I’m filing this one away!
Thanks Christopher. Enjoy!
Give credit when credit is due for either a team or individual if, they earn the accolades then sow the seeds!
Thanks Tim. The idea of gratitude as seed is fascinating.
…hilarious and memorable analogy! That will stick with me for a while…
Excellent!!! A good reminder!! Thanks, Howie
Great article and so true. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. I have, however, known people who don’t do that and in fact have taken credit for another’s work.
Thanks Crystal. Yes. On the other side of the coin we find credit thieves. I’m not sure which is worse, those who don’t show gratitude or those who steal credit. It feels like the latter.
I guess I’ve always believed that a good leader passes on the credit to the team (it provides energy, recognition, loyalty and empowerment) and takes all the kicks (after all isn’t the leader ultimately responsible) which shows the leader accepts responsibility and this builds loyalty in the team because they know they were possibly part of the reason you took the hit.
The opposite is usually an immature or ego driven leader – taking all the credit and passing on the kicks, those teams quickly resent the leader, have poor morale and avoiding blame becomes the behaviour of choice.
Thanks Rob. I think ego is central to this conversation. We need enough ego to believe we can make a difference, but not so much that we believe we can succeed on our own.
What we reward gets repeated. Unfortunately that goes for the good and bad things people do. However if used properly it can be incredible. Be intentional about looking for things to praise people on. We get told all the time how much we lack, how we could be better, and what we can fix. But when is the last time you honestly told someone you’re proud of them, that they did a great job, or that they are enough?
Affirmation is powerful stuff!
Thanks Josh. Well said!
I really like the idea of affirming “that they are enough.” Sometimes that’s all we need.
This is great! I was trying to decide what to do for our monthly team building activity and now this is it! Thank you.
Thanks Hampton. Depending on how big the team is, you might try going around the table filling in the sentence, “When I see you at your best, I see you…” Pick out a team mate and have people complete the sentence. Then, pick out another team mate and do it again until everyone has received affirmations from at least two or three people.
The the winner for the best title goes to…
Thanks Lucille. Just goes to show that if you keep at you’re bound to come up with something interesting.
That’s creativity at play:)!
The first thing I thought of with the title of this great article is that I never get to go to the bathroom alone – I have 2 cats!
That’s some good s#!t (pun intended).
In a society, and era that demands instead of giving, leaders can set the standard by showing gratitude. It can be contagious, I’ve seen it work!
This is GOLD!! And following the GOLDEN RULE works again! 😉 We should always show our appreciation when someone does a good job…even if the job duties are in their job description!
Brilliant post – not least because we’ve just finished toilet training our toddler, so the title cracked me up from the start! And yes, there was plenty of clapping!
Thank you, as always, you’ve got right to the heart of a really important topic. Gratitude expressed to others versus the fear of creating the idea that there’s no more room for improvement!
I just pulled some content together for a course on this. Not the bathroom part, but the looking at the negative than the positive. I narrowed down the discussion to how people interpret facts and events and how to use it to influence people.
It’s truly amazing how gratitude can be of so much impact on people. Personally, I love giving gratitude as I also like receiving one. It makes more motivated knowing that someone has appreciated what I have done.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog and got a different perspective on giving gratitude in the workplace. I agree that it is important to still acknowledge people for doing a job well done. An at-home comparison that comes to mind is thanking my boyfriend for helping out around the house. Should he help fold clothes, clean dishes, and wash clothes? Yes, he should because these are necessities that must get done, but his help does not go unnoticed and he still deserves a “thank you” for contributing. We should never lose appreciation for a job someone is doing, even for the little things.
It is always rewarding to feel that your superiors and coworkers notice your accomplishments and reassuring to know that you are doing a good job. It is true that those who think they are better or doing more than others may not show gratitude to others at a lower achievement level, but not everyone feels the need to go above and beyond at their job. Bragging is an unnatural thing for a lot of people, myself included, but it is important to have self-worth and know the value one brings to the workplace. I think inviting someone to brag to you about himself or herself is an excellent way to get people thinking more about their achievements, their goals, what they are proud of, what they have contributed, etc. and openly talking about all of that.