5 Languages Spotlight: Acts of Service
For someone whose preferred language of appreciation is Acts of Service, actions speak louder than words. Their motto is, “Don’t tell me you care; show me.” This week we want to focus on some of the best ways to show authentic appreciation to those who are encouraged by Acts of Service.
As a reminder, to be successful in applying the 5 Languages of Appreciation in your workplace, for staff to feel truly appreciated, there are four core conditions that need to be met.
Team members will feel valued when appreciation is communicated: regularly, through the language and actions important to the recipient, in a way that is personal and individualized, and in a manner that is perceived as genuine and authentic.
To help you navigate the second condition – appreciation communicated through the language and actions important to the recipient – we put together some suggestions for showing appreciation to those whose preferred language is Acts of Service.
Here are some basic guidelines for how to serve your coworkers effectively.
Ask before you help. It is always critical to ask first when considering helping a colleague. Even when you know an individual’s primary language of appreciation is Acts of Service, you need to check with them first to see if they would like assistance on the current task. If you dive in to help on a task when the coworker does not want help, it can create tension rather than encouragement.
Serve voluntarily. For an act of service to be encouraging to a colleague, the action needs to be offered voluntarily. An act of service done under duress of a supervisor ceases to become an expression of appreciation; it becomes simply an act of duty or obedience.
Check your attitude. There is an ancient proverb that says, “Work done with a cheerful attitude is like rain falling on the desert.” We think the opposite is also true. Work done with a negative attitude is like a sandstorm blowing through the desert. Receiving help from someone who is grumpy or who resents having to help is not encouraging.
Do it their way. When helping out a colleague, it is important to clarify how they want the task done. If you want your efforts to be appreciated, you must be willing to do it in such a way that the individual you are helping will feel that the task was “done right” and at the quality level they desire.
Complete what you start. For those individuals for whom acts of service are important, one way to not encourage them is to start a task and then leave it incomplete. If you are going to “help,” make sure to get the task done. (Or, alternatively, tell them how much time you have available to help.)
Helping with a specific work project isn’t the only way to show appreciation to those who value Acts of Service. Other ideas for encouragement include:
- Bringing them (or their team) some food when they are working long hours.
- Offer to do some simple tasks – like filing or photocopying – so that they can focus on a higher priority.
- Stay after hours to assist them at an event.
- Volunteer to do some work for them that they dislike or are not good at, like collating files or fixing a technical problem with a presentation.
- Provide extra assistance when they are getting ready for a big event or presentation
If you aren’t sure what action would be most meaningful to them, you can always ask, “Is there anything I could do for you that would make your work easier?” Their answer to that question may surprise you, but you will now have valuable information on how you can most effectively express appreciation to that particular individual. Remember, however, that most individuals’ first response to an offer of help is: “No, I’m good to go.” So, don’t be afraid to press them a bit by saying, “Really, I’ve got some time and I’d love to help.” Often, they will then allow you to assist them with a task and will feel encouraged as a result.
Finally, don’t forget that over 1 in 5 employees (22%) have Acts of Service as their primary language of appreciation (with another 15% having it as their secondary language) – so over one third of your coworkers value appreciation shown through practical actions that will help them do their work more effectively.
For more information about the language of Acts of Service, watch this video.
Categories 5 Languages of Appreciation, Acts of Service, Appreciation, Authenticity, employee peer-to-peer recognition, Workplace Culture