Do you ever feel like you’ve shown so much appreciation to someone and yet the recipient doesn’t seem to recognize it? This may be due to a mismatch in languages of appreciation. As managers, it’s critical that we show appreciation that is meaningful to our team members, but figuring out how to do this isn’t always obvious.
Dr. Paul White is a psychologist, speaker, and international leadership trainer who “makes work relationships work”. His company, Appreciation at Work, provides training resources for corporations, medical facilities, schools, non-profits, government agencies, over 700 colleges and universities, and in over 60 countries. He is the coauthor with Dr. Gary Chapman of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, which has sold over 400,000 copies.
Paul and I talk about the five languages of appreciation, how to show appreciation that is actually appreciated, how to not show appreciation that backfires, and basically all things appreciation in the workplace.
Read the related blog article: How To Ensure Your Team Members Feel Valued
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- There are five languages of appreciation at work based on Dr. Gary Chapman’s five love languages: words of affirmation; quality time; acts of service; tangible gifts; physical touch.
- 46% of people prefer Words of Affirmation. This includes verbal and written (paper and digital) communications.
- When offering words of affirmation, use the person’s name and be specific about what you appreciate and why.
- Show appreciation for performance and personal qualities such as cheerful attitude, sense of humor, or dedication.
- Approximately 40% of people prefer to receive praise in private.
- Quality time focuses on feeling included. This can be done through small gestures such as informal chatting with a person and spending time talking about work, listening attentively, and providing opportunities for mentorship.
- Acts of service is about helping to make the other person’s life or work better. This includes proactive acts and offers such as helping on a project, ensuring someone isn’t interrupted while they’re trying to focus, or lending your expertise.
- Do not confuse acts of service with swooping in to save a failing project or taking over someone else’s work.
- Tangible gifts do not need to be expensive. As long as the item is specific to the person and shows you thoughtfully selected this gift because you were thinking about them. Consider items such as a person’s caffeinated beverage of choice, a magazine featuring a hobby they enjoy, or a memento from a vacation you just took.
- Less than 1% of the population prefer physical touch. This can be complicated in the workplace and it’s important to respect physical boundaries. Acts such as a handshake, high five or fits bump after an exciting moment are all appropriate.
- Physical touch can also be conveyed without contact through a warm smile and looking the person in the eyes.
- Rewards are not the same as appreciation. Rewards incentivize performance while appreciation shows gratitude for the whole person.
- Whenever possible, show appreciation within 24-48 hours after an occurrence, instead of waiting for a formal review.
- Beware of generational differences in appreciation. Older generations tend to prefer handwritten notes while younger generations feel equally satisfied by digital messages. Younger generations also tend to appreciate the ability to have quality time outside of the office rather than with their colleagues.
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- Book: Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace
- Books by Gary Chapman on the Five Love Languages