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On gripes and gratitude

Posted by Sarah Mitchell on 24th November , 2020 in The Write Fit
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This is an excerpt from the 32nd edition of The Write Fit, a fortnightly newsletter about writing, editing and proofreading, content marketing and good editorial practices for business, from Sarah Mitchell and Dan Hatch at Typeset.

 

Thanksgiving is the most popular holiday in America because a) it’s non-denominational so everyone joins in, b) it’s a feast and who doesn’t like that?, and c) it’s the kick-off to the holiday season.

It’s also a time to think about gratitude and take a break from the habit of whingeing, whining, and complaining about the irritations of our day. That’s the more common way we bond with our co-workers, reconnect with our families and friends after work, and shake off the annoyances that interrupted our good moods. Venting feels good, right?

But here’s the thing; there’s an opportunity cost to griping. Our stress levels rise, we tend to eat more, exercise less and experience other health-related maladies like headaches and poor sleep.

Counting your blessings

Focusing on the good things in life helps us deal with trials and tribulations in a much more effective way than griping. One of the benefits to gratitude is it connects us deeply with other people.

Robert Emmons, author of The Little Book of Gratitude, suggests viewing a hassle or bad experience through a lens of gratitude will produce a long-lasting silver lining – an overall sense of wellbeing that can last for days or weeks.

What does that have to do with writing and marketing?

So much of modern marketing is focused on being clever or rising above our competitors. Too often, that’s achieved with acerbic wit, sarcasm or ‘gotcha’ attacks when someone missteps. If you’ve been anywhere near Twitter or Facebook in the last five years, you’ll know what I mean.

What if we flipped our approach to one of empathy? What if we made it a mission to treat every interaction with kindness? If that feels uncomfortable to you, consider this.

According to the Happiness Lab podcast, we underestimate the positive impact our expressions of gratitude have on other people. We overestimate how awkward they feel when receiving our gratitude. As it turns out, people love the meaning and warmth we convey and tend not to feel one bit awkward reading about how wonderful we think they are.

If those people are our customers, or people we want to be customers, the goodwill we build from genuinely communicating why we’re grateful to them is invaluable. And it’s free.

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving – and in the absence of turkey and pumpkin pie, which I love but my family loathes  – I recommend the following:

  • Inject an element of empathy into all your writing – or take our seminar to learn how.
  • Consider sending a gratitude email or letter to one of your customers every week.
  • Take an extended break from Facebook and Twitter. I know this is radical but I promise you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel.
  • The next time you have a dust-up at work or a confrontation with a customer, resist the urge to complain. Instead, write down at least one positive outcome as a result of the situation.

Finding reasons to be grateful in 2020 is going to take extra effort. One way to keep the spirit of Thanksgiving, even if I’m not in America to experience the nationwide food coma, is to write a gratitude email. It cheers me up just thinking about it.

Sarah Mitchell
24 November 2020

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