The Gratitude Stairwell

You can thank your way to the top.

If you want to grow in influence and status in any organization, the formula is simple – and you can do it without being mercenary, underhanded, or “stepping on” anyone. In fact, just the opposite. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be tactical – but that just means being effective.

Here’s how you do it:

First, know what it is you want to do. What do you want to be known for? What things do you want to influence and be a part of? The introspection is important – you have to have a target.

Second, whenever anyone else does something that you’d like to someday do yourself, you have to thank them.

Not just compliment them! Not just praise them! Thank them!

You have to thank them for demonstrating what they did. You have to specifically thank them for showing you how to do that, for helping you learn more about that thing. And you have to do it as publicly as possible given the context.

So, not great: an email saying “That was an awesome job you did.”

Much better: During an all-hands meeting, saying “I want to especially take some time and say thank you to Betty for really demonstrating how to be effective during our business reviews. I learned a lot from that and I’m really excited for the next round, and I appreciate you so much for that. Thanks Betty!”

Why does this work?

Public expressions of gratitude reflect extremely well on your character. Everyone wants to work with the person that says thank you frequently, so you get more opportunities. That also helps the subject matter “stick” in people’s minds – they’ll have a positive association between “you” and “business reviews” in the future, making that task more likely to be open to you. It lays the groundwork for being able to advocate for yourself in many ways.

It also flushes out snakes.

In every organization, most people are great and a few people aren’t. The over-the-top gratitude takes the strategy of “assume everyone is good, but make it uncomfortable if they aren’t.” If someone’s intentions aren’t good, then thanking them in public will make them distance themselves from you or find ways to take cheap shots – and it will be obvious. So as a nice side benefit, this method specifically makes you more popular with the good people and not with the bad eggs.

Try it today. Find something you want to do, and thank your way to the next step closer.

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