Categories for 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

How Can I Get Things to Change Around Here?

Change is difficult to accomplish – for individuals, groups, and especially organizations. While we can see the need for change, and want to help the organization (or our department) to function better, enacting change can be frustrating. In fact, there is a whole profession devoted to assisting organizations implement needed changes; they are called “Change Management Specialists (CMS).” The critical question is: What can you do when you are frustrated about the lack (or pace) of change in your organization? I’m going to give you some foundational, beginning steps with which to start and then refer you to an article... Continue reading...

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January 16, 2023 9:00 am
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How to Give Thoughtful Employee Gifts This Holiday Season

Determining if you should give a gift to those with whom you work—colleagues, supervisors, managers, and direct reports – can be one of the more anxiety-inducing activities around the holiday season. If you do decide that you want to give an employee gift, the practical issue becomes: “What should I give them?” While some may think giving employees gifts isn’t valued in the workplace, many find these small tokens of appreciation go a long way. We conducted research with individuals who prefer being shown appreciation through gifts. Responses from 500 employees who were randomly selected out of a group of... Continue reading...

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December 12, 2022 9:00 am
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Words Aren’t Enough

A major misconception many people have is that communicating appreciation is essentially a verbal act – saying thank you, giving a compliment, or sharing with a colleague why you appreciate them. So, when people hear the term ‘appreciation,’ many automatically think of words. The problem is: this is only part of the picture. Consider the following: If You Have to Use Words . . . While Words of Affirmation is the easiest language for most people to understand and use, they aren’t always implemented effectively. We have found that following a few simple tips can make a significant difference. To... Continue reading...

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November 28, 2022 9:00 am
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Are There Times When You Should NOT Communicate Appreciation?

Our business is built around encouraging leaders and colleagues to show appreciation to their coworkers and training teams to do so effectively. But there are times and situations when we recommend not communicating appreciation (or, at least, waiting). Sometimes, encouraging your colleagues is not the best course of action to take. In fact, doing so at the wrong time can actually backfire and create more problems. Here are some circumstances when you should reconsider whether or not to proactively communicate appreciation to those with whom you work: When a relationship is tense. If you are in a work relationship that... Continue reading...

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October 17, 2022 9:00 am
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Why Do We Create Versions of the MBA Inventory for Different Workplace Settings?

As we prepare to launch our newest industry-specific MBAI for Veterinary Clinics, we thought we would answer a frequently asked question. Why do we create industry-specific versions of our MBAI assessment? Here are a few of the factors that lead to their creation: Our goal is always to provide relevant, practical and easily applied resources to help team members communicate appreciation effectively to one another. We don’t want people who are taking the inventory to feel that it isn’t relevant to their industry or workplace. While our general workplace version of the inventory fits most office settings, some workplaces utilize... Continue reading...

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October 10, 2022 9:00 am
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Answers to Common Questions about Appreciation

When people are introduced to the concept of communicating appreciation in the workplace, a number of questions are frequently raised. Sometimes the questions seem more like a defensive response, with the individual putting up an obstacle that they hope will relieve them from having to take the topic seriously. But many times, the person seems to be thinking through how the concept would apply to their daily work life. So, let’s identify and address some of the most frequently raised issues. “I barely have time to get my normal, daily tasks done each day. How will I find the time... Continue reading...

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October 3, 2022 9:00 am
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Making Others Feel Good Is Not the Goal of Appreciation

Sometimes, when business leaders first hear about the 5 languages of appreciation, their initial response is, “Work is getting things done. I don’t care how people feel about it.” My response is that, while I understand their hesitation, the goal of appreciation isn’t to make others feel good (though that is a nice byproduct). The real goal is to help create a healthy, functioning organization. This distinction is important because good employees are not easy to find, develop or keep. And business owners and managers are at risk for misunderstanding how to keep their team members. Many believe their employees... Continue reading...

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August 29, 2022 9:00 am
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Why We Do, What We Do, the Way We Do

Successful companies and organizations have certain core values and commitments that run throughout their corporate cultures and are often visible in the services they offer and products they produce. When you think about Hilton, Chick-Fil-A, Southwest Airlines and Mercedes Benz, you know what you will be getting as a customer. This is because they have worked hard to make certain priorities and behaviors a part of their DNA. (If you don’t like or have the same values they do, you choose an alternative provider.) Hilton and Mercedes Benz provide quality and luxury at a higher cost to the consumer. Southwest... Continue reading...

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July 18, 2022 9:00 am
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5 Languages Spotlight: Gifts

When comparing the various Languages of Appreciation, it’s easy to see that employees overwhelmingly don’t choose tangible rewards as the primary way they want to be shown appreciation. Only 6% of employees identify tangible gifts as their primary language of appreciation. And they also choose tangible gifts as their least valued language almost 70% of the time. This is important to consider because most employee recognition programs emphasize giving gifts. While there is obviously nothing inherently wrong about this, companies end up wasting millions of dollars giving gifts to employees that aren’t wanted and do little to improve performance. This is especially... Continue reading...

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May 23, 2022 9:00 am
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5 Languages Spotlight: Quality Time

Many people assume that appreciation is always communicated verbally. While using words is one way to show staff members that you value them, many employees prefer appreciation shown through the language of Quality Time. In fact, Quality Time is the preferred appreciation language for 26% of employees in the U.S. (or, one of every four of your colleagues.) By Quality Time, we mean spending time with a colleague either by giving the person your focused attention, working collaboratively with them, or (for some people) just “hanging out.” You are showing that you value them by giving them your most precious resource:... Continue reading...

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May 2, 2022 9:00 am
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6 Reasons Your Boss Doesn’t Say Thank You Enough (or Ever)

Words of Affirmation is just one of the five ways employees like to be shown appreciation. And business and organizational leaders are constantly reminded how important it is to communicate appreciation to their staff — and it is. But sometimes a simple ‘thank you’ isn’t said often enough. When employees feel truly valued and appreciated, good things follow. Team members are less likely to leave for another job, complain and grumble, steal from the organization, or get hurt on the job. Conversely, they are more likely to show up for work (and on time), follow established policies and procedures, and... Continue reading...

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April 18, 2022 9:00 am
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5 Languages Spotlight: Acts of Service

“Don’t tell me you care; show me.” This is a phrase often heard from those whose preferred language of appreciation is Acts of Service. For them, actions will always speak louder than words and they feel appreciated when others reach out to help. 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. How you help out a colleague really is situation specific.... Continue reading...

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April 11, 2022 9:00 am
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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... Continue reading...

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March 21, 2022 9:00 am
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How to Get Past the Most Common Challenges to Creating a Culture of Appreciation

While creating a workplace culture of appreciation is fairly straightforward, a number of practical challenges also exist. Research has shown that teaching leaders and colleagues how to communicate authentic appreciation to one another can make their workplaces more positive. And the impact has been demonstrated in medical settings, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, schools, multinational corporations, financial institutions and manufacturing firms. (Read the recent New York Times business section article* on the 5 languages of appreciation.) But, like trying to implement any change, obstacles can arise. After working with numerous organizations to implement the 5 languages of appreciation, we noticed some... Continue reading...

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March 14, 2022 5:35 pm
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Does the Conflict at Your Workplace Give You a Headache?

Understanding where conflict comes from Conflict at work happens – a lot. And it is a major source of stress for both employees and supervisors.  It shouldn’t take you but a few seconds to recall a tense moment in your workplace — to remember the discomfort of watching a not-so-friendly disagreement in a meeting. Or to relive the sting of a critical comment made in front of your colleagues. One study found that, on average, each employee spends 2.1 hours every week (or one day per month) dealing with conflict in some way. Either being directly involved in a disagreement,... Continue reading...

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January 31, 2022 9:00 am
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Tips for Developing a Culture of Appreciation: How to Get Past Being ‘Stuck’

Many of us have good intentions. We want to help improve our workplace culture, become more positive and supportive, and less combative and stressful. And many of us have tried, but have gotten stuck in their endeavors. Our efforts in introducing the 5 languages of appreciation to leaders and colleagues have either been met with a lukewarm response or started out well, but fizzled before getting off the ground (partly due to all of the challenges the COVID pandemic has created). But I would encourage you: Take heart! Steps can be taken to get you ‘unstuck.’ Remember: People Have Limited... Continue reading...

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January 24, 2022 11:20 am
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Appreciation Across Generations

How Preferences Among Different Age Groups Should Influence Your Recognition Strategies If you approach communicating appreciation and recognition to employees the same, regardless of their age group, you are at high risk for missing the mark – including wasting your time, energy and the organization’s money. Recent research with over 190,000 employees found that how they prefer to be shown appreciation varies significantly, especially for employees in the youngest and oldest generations. Utilizing the five languages of appreciation model, we found that while the pattern of preferred appreciation languages generally carries across age groups, a shift is occurring. Historically over... Continue reading...

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January 17, 2022 9:00 am
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We’ve Been Fact Checked (and We Were Right!)

HBR reports research demonstrating appreciation improves productivity The Harvard Business Review recently published an intriguing article, “5 Things High-Performing Teams Do Differently” based on research findings by Dr. Ron Friedman.   “New research suggests that the highest-performing teams have found subtle ways of leveraging social connections during the pandemic to fuel their success. The findings offer important clues on ways any organization can foster greater connectedness — even within a remote or hybrid work setting — to engineer higher-performing teams.” And (surprise!) three of the five key characteristic actions they cited are core principles we teach in our Appreciation at... Continue reading...

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November 1, 2021 9:00 am
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A Survival Guide for Managing Discussions about COVID at Work

Well, here we are, 18+ months into dealing with COVID-19 and, unfortunately, the challenges remain. And additional challenges have developed – not only dealing with the actual physical repercussions of the virus – but now having to manage a wide range (and varying intensities) of opinions about COVID-related issues: masks, the vaccine, mandates, safety of our children, new virus variants. The tension is thick in the air – within the culture at large, on the airwaves and internet, within families, and within workplaces.  A number of factors combine to create a significant sense of uneasiness for most of us:  ... Continue reading...

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October 5, 2021 7:00 am
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The Expanded MBAI & Introducing the Senior Care Version

Identifying how each person wants to be shown appreciation is critical to be effective in encouraging and supporting one’s colleagues. Otherwise, team members wind up guessing or taking a shot in the dark, which can obviously lead to missing the mark. Over 285,000 individuals across the world have taken the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory which has helped them identify their Primary, Secondary and Least Valued Languages of Appreciation, along with the specific actions they value most within their Primary Language of Appreciation and from whom they desire those actions. The Expanded MBA Inventory builds off of the foundation of the... Continue reading...

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September 13, 2021 9:00 am
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Making Appreciation Stick

A common question I am asked by those trying to help create a culture of appreciation in the workplace is: “How do we continue the efforts over time so that a real change occurs?” This is always an encouraging question to be asked because it points to the individual’s desire to really make a difference in their workplace rather than just “go through the motions” or do a “one and done” training event. Let me share five guiding principles that can help appreciation “stick” in your workplace: Utilize small actions over time. As a friend once mentioned to me, “Most... Continue reading...

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August 16, 2021 9:00 am
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How to Show Appreciation to a Large Team Without Burning Out

Each workplace setting and group of employees is unique, which is why the Appreciation at Work materials are designed to provide turn-key, practical resources to assist leaders and organizations in building healthy workplace cultures. But sometimes there are challenges based on the structure of the industry, limited budgets, or the size of a work group that need special attention. Overseeing large teams is one of those unique circumstances. One example comes from Jack, a manager at a senior care living center, asked: “I ‘get’ the concept of communicating appreciation to my team and the need to make it personal and individualized.... Continue reading...

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August 2, 2021 9:00 am
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Getting Leadership Onboard for Appreciation at Work

Whenever I speak to a group of employees, supervisors, or HR managers, inevitably I hear something like the following: “What am I supposed to do if our management team isn’t interested in appreciation? They are focused on achieving goals and the bottom line – they think communicating appreciation is stupid and a waste of time.” Many leaders aren’t opposed to appreciation. They just don’t understand what communicating appreciation really looks like in daily work life, what it isn’t, and what they can realistically expect appreciation to accomplish in their organization. In recent years, the emphasis has been more on employee... Continue reading...

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May 17, 2021 9:00 am
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How Authentic Appreciation Can Make You Less Busy

Busyness, especially unnecessary and unproductive busyness, is similar to the unhealthy rapid growth that can happen in plants – sending out new shoots (known as suckers) not related to the core growth of the organism. Busyness eats up resources (time, energy, money) for activity that may not be healthy for the organization or its members. As a psychologist, I’m supposed to know something about behavior change, and how to help people change patterns of behavior and habits. One of the factors that we know improves the likelihood of changing behavior is if the new behavior is closely related to an... Continue reading...

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May 3, 2021 9:00 am
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Appreciation is Making a Difference: Here’s Where

Over the past 10+ years, we have been diligent in investigating the concept of appreciation in the workplace from a variety of perspectives. Our goal is always to provide accurate, helpful and practical information and insights for applying appreciation to our daily work lives.  We strive to conduct high quality research and present valuable findings, but we realize if the information obtained isn’t understandable and applicable to the challenges of daily life, the results have limited value. As a result, we have written and published numerous articles (and created videos) exploring a wide range of topics, questions, and differences in... Continue reading...

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January 19, 2021 9:00 am
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How To Give Thoughtful Employee Gifts This Holiday Season

One of the more anxiety-inducing activities around the holiday season is trying to determine if you should give a gift to those with whom you work—colleagues, supervisors, managers, and direct reports. If you do decide that you want to give an employee gift, the practical issue becomes: “What should I give them?”  While some may think giving employees’ gifts isn’t valued in the workplace, many find these small tokens of appreciation go a long way. Businesses spend billions of dollars on recognition rewards every year in hopes of creating a better employee experience and even increasing their bottom line, but... Continue reading...

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December 7, 2020 9:00 am
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Sync or Swim: A light read about working together during a crisis

Holidays are a great time to enjoy some light reading. But we are also in the midst of difficult circumstances – working from home, team members spread out, and financial challenges. Sync or Swim fits into both these categories. Through a fun, story format, you’ll read about various personality types and how they often respond to stress, and you’ll learn practical ways to “pull your team together.” (And it is a great way to introduce friends, family and colleagues to the 5 languages of appreciation.) Humans are hard-wired for a story and fables cut through complexity to reveal simple wisdom.... Continue reading...

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November 30, 2020 9:00 am
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