Do you feel appreciated at work? Do you know how to show appreciation to your co-workers?
Dr. Paul White and Dr. Gary Chapman did research to understand how the way we speak to one another at work makes a difference in the workplace culture. The result was a new work called The Five Languages of Appreciation.
In this episode, I walk through some of the things Dr. White learned and how we can help our companies become more grateful.
The Five Languages of Appreciation
Adapted from the 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, these categories reveal how we relate and show appreciation at work:
- Words of affirmation – Shared by 46% of employees, many appreciate receiving verbal acknowledgment of their work and contributions to the team.
- Quality Time – 26% of employees value quality time with co-workers and leaders. They probably won’t appreciate an email or sticky note as a primary way of communicating news, but instead, desire to talk in-person or directly.
- Tangible Gifts – Only 6% of employees appreciate receiving a gift as the primary way of acknowledging performance. This percentage goes up when the gift is highly personalized. In fact, Dr. White advises us to not give everyone the same gift.
- Physical Touch – In the workplace, a small percentage (<1%) of people find physical touch (high fives, handshakes, fist bumps) to be their primary language of appreciation.
- Act of Service – 22% of employees find great satisfaction when workers and leaders go out of their way to do something kind or assist with challenges without asking.
Notes on application
It’s not just what we say, but how we say it.
We often assume others speak the same language that we do, but over half the time that’s not true. It might be better to assume you don’t speak the same language.
The language in our personal relationships isn’t always the same as in our professional relationships. Dr. White’s research discovered that over 30% of the time our personal and professional “love” languages differ.
A test can be helpful. Free assessments come with the purchase of the book.
Authenticity is required. Your peers, family, and customers can tell when you’re faking it.
How are gratitude and appreciation related?
Gratitude is a more global concept while appreciation is a more personal acknowledgment.
Research proves that only 10-15% of workers receive recognition for good performance—typically the same people who get rewarded every year. A lack of appreciation is cited as a reason for leaving a job by up to 79% of employees leaving voluntarily.
So, while recognition is largely performance-based, appreciation typically focuses on character and relationships.
Dangers of appreciation
Beware of some of these dangers of appreciation:
- We tend to devalue languages that aren’t the same as our own.
- The language we appreciate can also be the language where we are most sensitive. If words of affirmation are our preferred language, when someone verbally critiques us we are more likely.
- Don’t treat everyone the same.
How should you practice appreciation at work?
- Start with small efforts. Big grandiose schemes rarely work and often have hidden costs. Focus on small, consistent ways to show appreciation. Write a note. Drop-in for a quick word of encouragement. Publicly thank someone at every meeting you lead.
- Learn the languages. Try to under all 5 languages of appreciation. Learn to be a student of people who are different from yourself.
- Take an assessment. If you’re struggling to figure out who you are, take 15 minutes to assess yourself. Discuss it with your boss, your team, and your family. What resonates and what doesn’t seem quite right? What can you learn from the test?
- Recognize your weaknesses. Be just as aware of your weaknesses—the languages you devalue—as you are of your strengths
What is one thing you can do to either understand your language of appreciation or the language of one person at work in the next week?
Father, I thank you for loving me even when I don’t love you. You shower undeserved blessings and grace on me every day, and so often I miss it. I pray you would teach me a small measure of your wisdom and the power of my words. Just as you spoke life into being, I ask you to use me to speak life into others. I pray for your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Who is Dr. Paul White?
Dr. Paul White is a Christian psychologist, speaker, and leadership trainer who “makes work relationships work”. He has written publications like CNN/Fortune.com, Entrepreneur.com, Fast Company, and FoxBusiness.com. He’s also served Christian organizations like the Salvation Army; Compassion International; and Focus on the Family.
Dr. White is the co-author of three books including, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, which has sold over 500,000 copies (written with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the #1 NY Times bestseller, The 5 Love Languages). Their Appreciation at Work training resources have been used by numerous corporations, medical facilities, schools, non-profit organizations, and government agencies, over 725 colleges and universities, and in over 60 countries.