“Is 2020 over yet?” Since March, I’ve been hearing a version of this refrain from family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. I’m right there with you: to say this year has been challenging is an understatement. But amidst all the “anti-2020” negativity, there’s also an opportunity for us to lean into a different feeling: gratitude.
In this moment, we all yearn to be seen and acknowledged for what we’re going through. Coworkers, clients, and business partners need to know that their dedication is noticed and matters. There’s the coworker who put in long hours on high-priority projects while juggling a challenging work-from-home situation. There’s the long-time client who suffered a budget cut but still prioritized paying for your company’s services. And there’s the business partner who helped you implement new, innovative solutions that deliver even greater value to your clients.
When people around you feel seen and acknowledged, they return the favor. They invest more in their relationships and form stronger connections– helping us all better navigate this challenging time together.
Here’s how I’m leaning into gratitude with clients and colleagues this holiday season:
Picking up the phone to say hello. When was the last time you called a professional contact not because you needed a favor, but because you genuinely wanted to know how they were doing? In a year when we’re feeling more disconnected than ever, picking up the phone – rather than sending a brief email – is one small way to let colleagues know you care. Focus on listening and empathizing with their challenges rather than trying to “sell” any services or solutions.
Sending personalized gifts. In a time of economic uncertainty and tight budgets, thoughtful gift giving is more important than ever. This year, I’m matching my recipient’s interests with items available from small businesses and local makers. For example, one of my clients enjoys wine, so I’m sending him a bottle from a small California winemaker impacted by this year’s wildfires.
Donating to favorite non-profits. One way to help people feel seen is to support the causes that are near and dear to their hearts. I have a client who regularly volunteers with a local non-profit that’s been hit hard by COVID-challenges. This holiday season, I’ll make a donation in their honor to this non-profit. You could also support colleagues doing a “virtual” fundraising walk for cancer research or match donations up to a set amount to your team’s favorite charities.
Giving the gift of time. Gift cards have a reputation for being impersonal, but in a year when many of us are struggling to “get it all done,” they can give the most valuable gift of all: time. One of my clients is juggling full-time work and managing remote-learning for her children. I’m sending her gift cards to her favorite local restaurant so dinnertime can be a bit easier. You could also give your coworkers gift cards for food delivery services or to a local gourmet grocery store so they can order holiday meals.
With most of our daily communication happening over email or video calls, there are fewer opportunities for in-person moments of gratitude. Now, more than ever, being proactive about saying “thank you” matters. Pick up the phone, send a personal gift, or make a donation and spread the gratitude.
How are you saying “thank you” to clients and colleagues this holiday season?