This morning I received some sad news about someone’s unsuccessful battle with cancer, and in combination with the holidays approaching, thinking about the very eventful 2016, and the sappy holiday commercials it all made me think about gratitude.
In this extremely fast-paced world, filled with negativity, it is hard to stop and remember to be thankful and also to make time to thank others who have helped us along the way.
While it is common to show gratitude around holidays, it is important to stay humble and show it year round and especially to the communities you participate in. Showing gratitude to those who help enrich your community can prove to be tenfold more rewarding. When I first started monitoring a question and answer community, I was so focused on clearing the backlog, and making sure no question went unanswered, and that all posts had meaningful information the participants asked about, and so it was much later that I realized I wasn’t doing it alone and that those helping me needed recognition.
In the early days of my community monitoring, I was so surprised at how many people were willing to help others by providing solutions to their problems, advice, forewarnings of pitfalls and recommendations, and all for free. These people were all too happy to share their knowledge for the greater good of the community. Unfortunately, a lot of community participants would not return to confirm that the suggestions have resolved their issue or to say thank you, and that has left some of the other power participants feeling a bit low.
In some of these question and answer communities, it is possible to mark a post as a solution. This helps close off the collaboration, it becomes the recommendation for anyone with the same question, and the number of answers and solutions is tracked on a user profile. On few occasions, I have had some of the regular helpers reaching out and asking me to mark some of the posts as the solution, because they felt they invested a lot of time helping another community user, and once they have solved their problem, they never bothered to reward the person helping them (by increasing the number of solutions on their profile) or thanking them.
This inspired me to start reviewing some of the conversation that went on in the community. I was so focused on working with questions that received no answers or had no solutions, that I completely neglected the other conversations. I just figured, things were good, people were getting answers from people who had a stellar reputation in the community who knew what they were doing, and I didn’t need to interfere with that.
Investing some time in reviewing the strings of collaboration, marking some posts as solutions and taking the time to thank those who selflessly contributed to the community, was overwhelmingly well-received. Any work done in communities is public and has high visibility, but with the amount of information that is posted daily, it can sometimes become difficult to stand out and be recognized and my gut told me it was the right thing to do. After just a few days of sending thank you notes and some compliments on the creative solutions, I started receiving messages of gratitude back. That was certainly a wonderful surprise for me, I was shocked at how much a little note meant to some people I have never met or interacted with. That is not to say that everyone consistently forgot to thank the community members who have assisted them. Many have developed virtual friendships and promised each other beers when they happen to be in the same city. This is one of many reasons people are drawn to conferences and events hosted by an organization, as it is a great place to meet some of your community superheroes and thank them in person.
Give it a try in your communities, see where gratitude takes you this holiday season and all the way through next year, but most importantly share the stories of gratitude. We have too many shares on the bad things that happen in this world of ours, and it is not all that bad. Keep up your gratitude attitude!
Image Courtesy of Marija Jovanovic