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Saying + Showing Gratitude

People give and receive gratitude in different ways: gratitude languages. One of my favorite gratitude languages is showing, not saying.

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Drawing inspiration from the 5 languages of love, I believe that gratitude works in a very similar way. People prefer to give and receive gratitude in a diversity of ways. 

For example, someone may not feel comfortable with extensive verbal praise and gratitude in either a public or private setting, but a small gesture of appreciation might be overwhelmingly meaningful to them. Or sometimes, "thank you" can be used so often that sharing this sentiment differently may be more impactful for larger moments of gratitude.

How might this look in the workplace? A few ideas:

  • Baking something delicious for your teammates, or bringing a favorite snack to a meeting.
  • Offering some extra, intentional time supporting your colleague in reviewing a deck or practicing a presentation.
  • Writing a card to your coworker and giving it to them in person, in their work mailbox, or perhaps even mailing to their home.
  • For the artistically inclined, a small doodle, drawing, or craft.
  • Remembering to take photos of an event a colleague is leading, and sharing those with them either digitally or printed. 
  • For big occasions, like big work anniversaries, it may be appropriate to collectively organize a fun presentation about the person or present them with a meaningful gift.
  • Depending on the relationship - a hug or handshake might be appreciated.


Gratitude has the potential to be a creative, personalized, memorable professional moment between two (or more) colleagues. Sharing sincere "thank you"s is important and can be very meaningful, but is not the only way to express gratitude.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

*How might your express your gratitude in ways that are most appreciated by those you're thanking? *How might you use moments of gratitude as creative expression? *What other ideas do you have for creative ways to express gratitude in your workplace? *Do you think it matters to express gratitude in different ways?

Tell us about yourself

I'm part of the OpenIDEO team and thankful to work in a culture of gratitude.

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