Top-Shelf Tip No. 226:

"Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway."

Mother Teresa

This Thanksgiving, Focus On The Giving

I've written multiple Thanksgiving-focused issues of Promotional Consultant Today about being thankful for work blessings and simply for the ability to work. So, it occurred to me—this year, let's focus on the "giving," before the "thanks." Let me explain.

Yesterday, I was in the drive-thru at McDonald's and when I arrived at the window to pay, the cashier said, "The car in front of you paid for your order." I was shocked, but beaming! I couldn't believe a stranger made such a nice gesture. It made my morning, and I vowed to do the same the next time I went through the drive-thru. That simple act of kindness stuck with me.

I arrived at work with my Egg McMuffin in hand and immediately walked into a conversation where my boss was complaining about a co-worker. "He is terrible at his job. He doesn't know what he is doing."

Next, I joined a meeting to discuss options for a new vendor. One of the other attendees had her own agenda. Her attitude was negative, her tone was harsh and she did everything she could to be uncooperative.

The various events of that morning got me thinking about giving. In the workplace, we may witness ungrateful attitudes and unkind behaviors, but small acts of giving and kindness can go a long way toward creating a more positive environment.

1. Giving does not have to mean something tangible. In the workplace, giving can be something as simple as assuming a co-worker has good intentions rather than suspecting a hidden agenda. Be giving by trying to understand the other person's needs or point of view.

2. Giving in the workplace can be an act of kindness or a "pay it forward" moment. Volunteer to create the next sales report. Offer to put the booth together at the next trade show. Help a less experienced colleague by taking him or her to lunch and sharing some of your experience and guidance. Or, simply say kind words about a colleague when others won't. These gestures can improve your reputation and visibility in the organization—and create a more positive culture.

3. Of course, there's also the tangible aspect to giving. We all love to receive, but think about what you can give. My husband has a tradition of giving books to each of his employees based on their interests, personalities and work goals. Recently, I noticed that my boss seemed extra stressed, so I placed a box of chocolates on her desk as a small gesture of kindness. No matter what environment you work in, it's always nice to know that someone is thinking of you—so give a little.

4. Finally, it's always a great feeling to give to your community, but employees often get burned out if they are forced to contribute to various charitable programs that the company pushes on them. Instead, choose an organization that's personal to you and find a way to contribute. Let others know what you're doing, but don't force the issue. If they are interested, they will let you know.

For example, one year I organized a shoe drive for underprivileged kids. I let people know and invited them to donate a pair of shoes. There was no pressure. I started receiving donations and began to stack the shoes in my office. Pretty soon, you could hardly see my desk for all the donations around me. When it came time to deliver the shoes, I had many volunteers who offered to help, and the joy of this shoe drive spread across the team.

As you celebrate this Thanksgiving with family and friends, think of how you can be more giving in your workplace. You might start by inviting a co-worker who has no Thanksgiving plans, or who you don't know very well, to join you.

Enjoy your day off! PCT returns on Monday.

Source: Cassandra Johnson is a tech-savvy marketing communications consultant and freelance writer. She reports on the latest trends in the promotional products industry, public relations, direct marketing, e-marketing and more. She supports clients in a variety of industries, including promotional products, hospitality, financial services and technology.