Start with this 10 second exercise:

  1. Choose a favorite food— the most delicious thing that pops into your brain right now.
  2. Remember a recent time when you were really hungry.
  3. Picture a friend showing up (during the hungry moment) and giving you that perfectly prepared favorite food.

How would you feel? Most people would respond— Grateful.

Here’s what’s new: neuroscientists out of USC found a direct link between the neutral pathways of gratitude and generosity. They’re inherently coupled, like two sides of the same coin.

This means your brain activity when receiving an unexpected steak or sushi (insert your favorite food here) is similar to the brain activity of the friend who is doing the giving.

Why does this matter for business? When your brain experiences gratitude/generosity, it activates neural pathways connected with positive emotion, relationship, fairness and economic decision-making. People’s brains literally function differently when dealing with people they have invested in or feel grateful toward.

This takes the old adage, “People do business with people they like,” to the next level.

Generosity and gratitude are symbiotic; if you trigger one, it automatically triggers the impulse for the other. So an act of generosity can start a spiral of goodwill.

As articulated by Antonio Damasio, world-renowned neuroscientist who specializes in how emotion influences decision making, "Gratitude rewards generosity and maintains the cycle of healthy social behavior."

As Thanksgiving draws near, try this out for yourself. Do something kind (and out of your usual routine) for a coworker or client. Notice how it impacts the business relationship.