Recently we were facilitating a leadership team of engineers from a technology company in New York. On the closing day of a 3-day strategic offsite meeting, the team’s energy was understandably low. They were all extremely tired and lacked the vitality and energy necessary to complete the next session we were about to lead. Our team noticed this “lull” and immediately spoke to what we noticed in the room. They all admitted they were “fried” and had a long commute ahead of them; in other words, they wanted to wrap things up quickly.

We had a major summary session that required their focus and participation. The intent was to capture the takeaways from the three days and name the next steps for the leadership team. We quickly pivoted our agenda, and the rest of the meeting went like this… 

Each person was asked to name how they were feeling at the moment. “Tired, annoyed, low-energy, exhausted,” were the words. We next asked them to join us in an experiment that would energize the room as well as themselves, and they all agreed. Just our offering this sudden pivot had piqued their interest. 

We then asked each one of them to go around the table and say ONE thing they appreciated about their teammates. Each of the five of them shared five statements of gratitude. After the last person went, there were 25 statements of gratitude that filled the room. With each leader and the next, they all felt the energy in the room and more importantly, their own personal mood and vibration change. It not only felt elevating to “give” gratitude but also felt empowering to receive it. 

New energy filled the room. Could they each feel it?  How did they feel differently than before?

The new words that the team used to describe how they felt when the exercise ended were “awake, ready, transformed, energized, happy, and fulfilled.”  With this new energy, we then transitioned to the task at hand. More importantly, the effects of sharing appreciations out loud will last long beyond the day.

Gratitude, or statements of appreciation, have the power to transform. In this case, they elicited visceral and tangible responses that positively shifted personal emotional states as well as affected the collective team experience. This positive energy fueled the rest of the meeting which ended with greater productivity, more insight, and creativity towards the work at hand.