In an earlier post, I talked about gratitude as a powerful way to build constructive relationships and motivate people. I’ve been struck over the past weeks about how rarely most of us use gratitude in our everyday interactions, especially with co-workers. (I think it’s ironic that we thank customers – who may or may not be with us in a year – and fail to thank our colleagues, many of whom we’ve had with us for years!)

Off the top of my head, I can think of three different organizations/leaders I’m working with right now who have recently received the feedback that their interactions with others are characterized more by criticism than by gratitude or appreciation. Most acknowledge this to be the case. Some even know about research like John Gottman’s that has shown the necessity of an overwhelmingly positive ratio of positive:negative interactions if you want to sustain constructive relationships. (Most are surprised – some to the jaw-dropping level – that Gottman found a necessary ratio of 5:1 positive:negative interactions.)

With Thanksgiving upon us, I want to bring this back to our minds again. Think of one person who has made a positive difference in your organization, your team, or for a client. Name what she did. Describe it so that someone who wasn’t there could really get it. Link those positive actions to the impact on your organization/team/client. Last, imagine the difference it would make if everyone in your team did this same sort of thing over the coming month.

Now the fun part: go share this with the person in question. Do it in your own style, but with the same vivid detail you just imagined. It will cost you precisely five minutes and will dramatically improve the chances you see that behavior again. Plus it will make you and the other person feel pretty good – and there’s something to be said for that.

Heck, for extra credit why not try this with two people??