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Underestimating the Effects of Gratitude

Published 7/23/2018

In today's episode, we're talking about the people who you're thankful for or impressed by and letting others know that we appreciate them with zero expectation.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
We talk a lot about ourselves on the show. Not necessarily in a selfish way, but in a way that allows us to kind of see ourselves better, more introspective than looking on our relationships with others. In today's episode, we are going to take a look at something that we can do to have better relationships. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and you're listening to Developer Tea. My goal on the show is to help you, the driven developers who listen to this show, to find a better connection to your career purpose and to help you do better work so you can have a positive influence on the people around you. Now a lot of the time, we kind of hope that if we work on ourselves, then everyone else around us is just going to naturally benefit. Unfortunately, or perhaps naturally, this is just not true. What we do in our own self-awareness certainly gives us an opportunity to become better, better in every aspect of what we do. More effective at achieving the things that we want to achieve, but also more effective at helping other people along the way. But so much of what we do depends on other people. And in fact, pretty much all of what we do as developers, it really comes down to connecting the values of the work that we do to the values of the people around us. So today's episode is a very simple reminder. It's a reminder to look around you, to think about the people that you work for, the people that you work with, and maybe not even the people that you work with, people who are not necessarily in that professional sphere of your life. Also the other people in your life, your friends, your family, everyone you come in contact with, these people have a major impact on who you are and what happens in your life. So I encourage you to take a moment and think about some of those people. Think about some of the things that they have done on your behalf for you. Think about some of the things that they are doing on a regular basis that you are either thankful for or impressed by. What I want you to do is choose one of those people, and this is perhaps going to feel a little bit awkward, but I want you to write a simple thank you to them. Handwritten note and email, even a text or even better phone call, let that person know that you appreciate them. And provide some reason as to why you appreciate them. And I want you to do this with zero expectation for anything to happen afterwards. This is purely an exercise in showing appreciation to other people. There should be no kind of ulterior motives, nothing that you expect to happen. Now to help you kind of build up the courage to do this, there was a study that was done that showed that we all have a hard time expressing our gratitude. Partially because we think that the other person is going to feel more awkward than they actually will. That's really important. We don't want other people to feel awkward. So why would we write them a thank you letter when all it's going to do is make them feel awkward? Well as it turns out, people don't feel that sense when we give them that gratitude. It's usually our own feelings of insecurity that we're kind of projecting on to other people. But beyond not making the person feel awkward, participants in this particular study, they consistently underestimated how positive the effect would be of these letters. Finally, the sender of these letters of gratitude consistently underestimated how warm and how competent the receiver would perceive the sender. In other words, the person that you say thank you to will likely receive that thank you more warmly than you expect them to. And as kind of a side effect, they will perceive you to be competent. Remember, that's not the reason that you're going to send out a thank you letter. You send out thank you letters to be in positive relationship with people. If you didn't have people around you to do work with you or to do work for, then you will quickly lose value in your job. You'll quickly lose value as developer. So to constantly be investing in these relationships, there's very little that you could do. Very few languages that you could go and learn that will have a bigger impact on your career than investing in relationships. So I want you to take that five minutes today. Whatever day you're listening to this podcast, even if it's just a quick text message, I want you to take five minutes and send that message to somebody totally unsolicited. Thank you so much for listening to this quick episode of Developer Tea. If you enjoyed this episode, then you should subscribe in whatever podcasting app you use so you don't miss out on future episodes like this one. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.