5 Languages Spotlight: Words of Affirmation
How to Use Words of Appreciation Effectively
While Words of Affirmation is the easiest language for most people to understand and use, it isn’t always deployed effectively.
Supervisors and managers often use words to encourage their team members. Compliments, a simple thank you, praise in front of others – are all examples of common uses of words to send positive messages in the workplace.
We have found that following a few simple tips can make the use of words more effective in showing appreciation and encouragement to colleagues (and help you avoid some common errors, as well). To be most effective words of praise should:
1. Be personal and individualized. While blast group emails (“Way to go, team!”) are an okay start, by definition they are impersonal. Direct your communication to one person and make your statement be about them.
2. The more specific the better. In a poll we conducted with thousands of employees, one of the most common phrases team members don’t want to hear is, “Good job.” Why? Because it is so general and generic it could be applied to anyone at any time. Additionally, I’ve had technical employees say, “My boss (who isn’t technically trained), wouldn’t know if I did a good job or not!” Be specific when you tell the employee what they did that you appreciate. “Thanks, Steven, for getting your report completed and to me before the deadline.”
3. Tell them why what they did is important – to you, to the organization, or to your clientele. While it may seem obvious to you why what they did is valuable, often employees don’t understand the big picture or the impact that action has on a number of people in the organization. “Thanks, Steven, for getting your report completed and to me before the deadline because that gives me more time to review it and incorporate it into my report to our director.”
4. Remember that words are not equally important to everyone. In our research with over 100,000 employees we found that less than 50% of employees want appreciation through words. That means, over 50% of employees want to be shown appreciation in ways other than words. For some, words are cheap. Their thinking is, “don’t tell me I’m important, show me.” That is why we encourage leaders to have their team members find out which of the 5 languages of appreciation are important to them. To date, we’ve had over 300,000 people take the MBAI and have expanded and improved the options for results for deeper analysis.
In addition to these tips, it is important to keep in mind that some people prefer written words of appreciation while some like to be told in person. And there are some employees who will want to be praised in front of others and those who prefer to be told privately. Communicating appreciation can be powerful and motivating when it is expressed through positive, encouraging words – especially when they are individualized and specific to the recipient.
Categories 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, Appreciation, Authenticity, Managing By Appreciation, Words of Affirmation