Workzone: Career coach places high value on true gratefulness in the office

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With unemployment stubbornly staying high and economic indicators looking ill, it can seem as though there isn't much to be thankful for when it comes to the workplace. But Karen Litzinger, a career coach in Regent Square, thinks a little thanks could go a long way at the watercooler.

Gratitude in the workplace is "greatly needed more than ever because people are doing more work with less staff because of the shrinking workforce," said Ms. Litzinger.

Compounding the problem, she said, is the introduction to the workplace of so-called millennials who grew up in a world where every Little League player received a trophy.

The topic of gratitude is on the minds of celebrants around the world this weekend.

National Gratitude Day was celebrated Saturday (Ms. Litzinger was head of the Pittsburgh celebration). The holiday was formed in the 1970s by the United Nations Meditation Group, and events are now held around the world.

But incorporating some gratitude into your life isn't just one big group rendition of "Kumbaya" (see how well that goes at your next big meeting).

True gratitude in the office goes beyond a simple "thank-you" card -- it personalizes thanks and focuses on what you specifically value about that colleague.

Timeliness is important in thanking colleagues for a job well done, Ms. Litzinger said. Grouping all recognition to an awards banquet or company picnic can "isolate gratitude and make it appear like a duty," she said.

An appreciation for gratitude can help those out of work, as well.

Focusing on the positive during a job search isn't easy, but it will help attract possible employers who have little patience with a "poor me" attitude, Ms. Litzinger said.

And, of course, a thank-you note always leaves a good impression after a job interview. Consider sending one even if you don't get the job, she said. A quick note thanking the interviewers for their time can keep you in the running for any future openings that might come up.

To help with overall feelings of gratitude, Ms. Litzinger suggests writing five things you're thankful for each day in a gratitude journal. It's a way to personally grow that will have positive effects in the workplace, she said.

The five items can be big ("my spouse") to small ("my funny key chain"). After some time of keeping the journal, you start to look for items to include in each day's entry, and focus on positive things rather than "the negative gossip around the water cooler," she said.

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Erich Schwartzel: or 412-263-1455.


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