Doing This at the End of Each Work Day Makes You More Likable, Study Says
New research is highlighting how you can make your coworkers respect and value you more.
The workplace can be a delicate thing to navigate, whether it's in person or remote. Coworkers can easily butt heads, which may result in unfavorable workplace conditions where gossip, disrespect, and ostracism run wild. And no one likes to be on the receiving end of that mistreatment. But there may be a way you can stop yourself from engaging in workplace mistreatment toward others and put yourself in a better light with your coworkers. According to a recent study, writing in a gratitude journal at the end of each work day may make you more likable to your coworkers and result in a better workplace environment overall.
The study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology on Sept. 17, had nearly 200 participants who worked at least 20 hours a week start and keep a gratitude journal for two weeks—completing at least one journal prompt every day after work. The researchers then paired participants up with coworkers and asked those coworkers to reflect on the other person's behavior over the past two weeks.
What they found was that workers engaged in less disrespect, rudeness, harassment, and exclusion of their coworkers after the gratitude journal exercise. In a statement, study co-author Shannon Taylor, associate professor of management at the University of Central Florida, said this is because just the "simple action" of writing down what you're grateful for each day "can change your outlook, your approach to work and the way your coworkers see you."
A gratitude journal requires individuals to recall and write down events and experiences that made them grateful, which should cultivate a "feeling of appreciation," the study states.
The researchers hypothesized that this appreciation would decrease workplace mistreatment by using the moral affect theory. According to the researchers, this theory suggests that gratitude will increase a person's prosocial motivation and prosocial behavior—not only to the person they are expressing gratitude toward, but also to others.
"When employees feel grateful at work, they are motivated to contribute to the welfare of others and, therefore, are less likely to put down coworkers, criticize them behind their backs, or exclude them from conversations. In other words, because incivility, gossip, and ostracism harm others' well-being, gratitude should decrease interpersonal mistreatment through its effect on prosocial motivation," the researchers wrote in their study.
It's a not a surprise that coworkers respond better to less workplace gossip and disrespect. Various research from over the years has found that workplace mistreatment can result in a variety of negative outcomes. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that it produces lower work performance, while a 2001 study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology showed it decreased job satisfaction, and a 2008 study published in Journal of Applied Psychology discovered that it could even result in declining physical health.
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The researchers from this new study acknowledged that prior research has shown the negative impact of work mistreatment, but noted that not much has been done to "identify ways to prevent or reduce interpersonal mistreatment in organizations."
"Psychology literature has shown that gratitude interventions, in which feelings of gratitude are purposefully cultivated, effectively promote stronger interpersonal relationships and greater prosocial behavior," the researchers stated in the study. "We therefore reasoned that employees who participated in a gratitude intervention would subsequently mistreat other organization members less frequently." And for more ways to feel better at work, ditch these 5 Words That Will Make You Sound Less Confident, According to Experts.