“What a nice gesture!” This is a long-used expression to acknowledge something thoughtful that someone did. It could be holding a door for you or sending flowers for no reason. The basic gesture definition is to use motion as communication. A nod, a wink, a wave and a bow are all gestures.

What Are Business Gestures?

So, what are gestures in business, and how can they help to build better business relationships? Good, solid relationships with customers, employees and suppliers are important to running and sustaining a healthy company.

Making a practice of extending kind gestures can help you retain good employees and valuable customers. It can also help you solidify relationships with suppliers, delivery people and just about everyone else with whom you come into contact when conducting your business. Kind gestures make people feel acknowledged and valued, and who doesn’t like that?

Reap the Rewards

Showing your customers that you appreciate them can build loyalty and bring in new customers through referrals from existing happy customers. Making sure your employees feel valued can come in handy when you have to ask them to stay late. Similarly, acknowledging the hard work of your suppliers can help when a rush order is suddenly needed. Extending kind gestures just feels good.

Five gestures for building better business relationships include:

1. Give Unexpected Gifts

It’s commonplace to give gifts for certain holidays, but gifts for no reason at all are a pleasant and much appreciated surprise that can breed all sorts of goodwill. The gifts need not be expensive. Something small with an enclosed card saying “you are appreciated” can have a big impact. Consider a gift that can be personalized with the recipient’s name.

2. Lighten the Workload

Surprise a hardworking employee by telling her to take off an hour or two early once in a while — paid. Carry a customer’s order to her car for her. Don’t ask if she’d like help; just do it. Help a delivery person unload your order or offer her a cold drink on a hot day.

3. Acknowledge and Thank People

Words alone can go a long way toward making people feel good. Expand on “thank you” once in a while. Look the person in the eye, smile, shake his hand and say something like, “I just want to take a moment to tell you how much I appreciate the great job you do” or tell a customer, “I just want to take a moment to tell you how much I appreciate your business.”

Try to mention something specific that you noticed and for which you were grateful. A kind gesture like this can make someone feel great, and they won’t forget it or forget you.

4. Take Time to Celebrate

Take the time and spend a few dollars on an employee party to celebrate the end of a tough quarter, meeting sales goals or anything else that deserves to be recognized. Have a customer appreciation day with free soft drinks and snacks and giveaways. Invite your vendors. They’re potential customers too.

5. Ask for Feedback

Ask everyone associated with your business for feedback on how things could be better accomplished, and be ready to respond. When people are asked for feedback but nothing changes, it sends the opposite message than you’re trying to convey. It tells them that what they have to say is not important.

Your Empathy Will Generate Ideas

The ability to empathize with others can help you think of all kinds of ways to express your approval, appreciation and understanding of the people who work for you, those who buy your products or services and those who provide support. Consider what you would like if you were in their position. You’ll probably be able to think of several kind gestures right away.

Kind gestures can go a long way in building better business relationships. They’re more meaningful when they’re unexpected. Think of them as an ongoing dialogue of gestures in communication and make them a regular part of your business vocabulary.