As my friend and colleague Paul Meshanko taught me (he’s an employee engagement guru, speaker, and the author of The Respect Effect), our brains are “open loop” systems. Other internal organs, by contrast, are closed loop systems.

Say I go for a run and I come back and stand next to Paul, who’s been working hard at his computer. My heart is beating fast due to my physical exertion. Will my elevated heart rate have any effect on Paul’s heart rate? No, obviously not.

See, “closed loop.” If I walk up to Paul and I am in a horrible mood, muttering under my breath, scowling to beat the band, and generally emitting negative energy, will my mood effect Paul’s? Yes – open loop. Our brains pick up signals from those around us.

In other words, we are always affecting people we work with, and being affected by them too. Something we should always keep in mind (both at work and elsewhere in our daily lives).

My other friend and colleague Lorene Schaefer (a highly talented mediator, arbitrator, and workplace investigator) recently posted a blog post entitled Know Your Own Hot Buttons at Work. In a nutshell, she encourages self-awareness in the workplace. What sets you off? Knowing that is the first step in learning how to avoid and/or deal with conflict at work.

OK, so I’ve got really smart and talented friends.  What’s my point?  I’m getting there. I swear.

First, know yourself. Second, be aware of the impact you have on those around you. And third (this is where I add my own twist), think about the G word, Gratitude.


Research shows that when we cultivate a practice of gratitude, we are happier. When we are happier, we are nicer to others, less likely to engage in conflict, and more productive.

But what does practicing gratitude even mean?

Gratitude is a mindset, and one that can become habitual the more we engage in it. So today, or sometime soon, acknowledge something at work you are grateful for. Express it to yourself, and even to others. Love how dedicated your employees are? Thank them. Appreciate how your manager always has your back? Acknowledge him or her. You may be surprised at the results.

We are now offering Workplace Investigations. Learn more here!