About a year ago I was a passenger in the Starbucks drive up line with my husband at the wheel. (Note that he hates Starbucks and doesn’t even drink coffee.) As the window opened, my husband grimaced as he handed over my shiny gold, name-embossed Starbucks card to the attendant. She surprised him by providing the total, $5.57, and adding: “The car in front of you paid for your coffee.”
Cary looked confused. I could hear his brain saying: ‘Why would they do that?’
Then she added: “So, I’ll just charge your card for next vehicle in line so you can pay it forward.”
“Huh?” Cary was really stunned now as he looked over at me suspiciously, as if I had invited this experience. Still perplexed, he asked: “Well, how much is it?”
“It’s $37.45,” The Starbucks worker chirped perkily.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me!” he exclaimed (among other things not appropriate for this blog) as he snatched that gold card back so fast it probably made her hand burn.
Cary had not previously been privy to the ‘pay it forward’ trend. As we drove away and I explained it to him, he looked disgusted.
“If they really wanted to do something that pays it forward, why not do it for someone that needs it, instead of guilt-tripping customers into paying the bill for someone who can afford $37.00 worth of flavored coffee? It seems so fake-nice.” He had a point.
It’s About Gratitude
Whether you agree or not with the pay it forward trend is not the point of this week’s blog. Rather I’d like to talk about creating the culture of gratitude in your organization. A lot has been made on this topic in recent years and many a social media post will receive likes this week for mentioning things for which the app user is grateful. You can find many articles from major trade journals discussing how to do this at work, too. The idea is simple – be thankful for what you have and you can improve your attitude and perhaps even invite more blessings. It’s a wonderful notion. The issue with making this a ‘cultural thing’ is that I’m concerned it takes the sincerity out of it at times and adds the trendy element. Let’s face it:
Gratitude is expressed voluntarily and with sincerity or it’s simply sarcasm.
Instead of worrying about social posts and forced niceties, let’s work to create environments where we don’t say we’re grateful to sound good, rather we do so because we are grateful that someone did us good.
ACT Like a Pro!