Categories for Authenticity

Dealing with Pushback from Employees on Returning to Onsite Work

Recently, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, announced to the 137,000 Apple employees that they would be expected to return to work onsite beginning in early September – not necessarily full-time but potentially up to three days a week. Almost immediately, there was pushback from some employees who wrote an open letter in Verge stating: “We feel like the current policy is not sufficient in addressing many of our needs.” The issue is one that many companies are facing – divergent views and conflicting desires regarding employees returning to work in the office, at least on a semi-regular basis. More... Continue reading...

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June 28, 2021 9:00 am
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Is Appreciation Just an American Concept?

I have had the privilege of traveling internationally to numerous countries to introduce the concept of authentic appreciation in the workplace. Fortunately, authentic appreciation and vibrant workplaces aren’t limited to certain cultures. They exist on every inhabited continent. (Our book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, has been translated into 27 languages.) Lessons from a Multinational Training Experience A few years ago, I had the opportunity to train the management and supervisors of an elite international organization in how to communicate authentic appreciation to their staff. Functioning within the tourism and hospitality industries, the staff (in one location) come from over... Continue reading...

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May 31, 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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Learning to Appreciate Difficult Colleagues

What do I do when I don’t appreciate one of my co-workers? Some people are more difficult to work with than others. Human beings can be weird, angry, irritable, and aggravating. They can have a lousy work ethic, poor communication skills and negative attitudes. Appreciating these individuals can be even more challenging. Here are some tips on how to grow your appreciation for a difficult colleague. First and foremost, don’t try to fake it. Trying to act like you appreciate someone when you actually don’t typically doesn’t go well, and perceived inauthenticity will undermine any trust that may exist in the relationship.... Continue reading...

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March 8, 2021 7:35 am
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The Grinch Who Hated Appreciation at Work

This year’s holiday season will be different in many ways. But we thought you might enjoy a look back at what employees love and hate about celebrating the holidays in the workplace. There’s an even a link in the post sharing readers’ stories of their best and worst memories.

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December 14, 2020 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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Building and Rebuilding Trust at Work

The issue of trust – and lack of it – is a common topic in our current culture. Comments can be found in any news medium and frequently in personal conversations. “I don’t trust him.” “They aren’t trustworthy.” “Big organizations can’t be trusted.” The reasons why there seems to be an epidemic of lack of trust is a complicated discussion, in and of itself. Partly, because many people and organizations have shown themselves not to be trustworthy. First, we must understand what trust really is, then we can consider and respond correctly to relevant situations. It is Not as Simple... Continue reading...

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October 26, 2020 9:00 am
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How to Help Your Employees Find Purpose at Work

“Does what I do matter?” Every person on the planet wants to know the answer to this question. This is especially true for employees that are feeling unstable and uncertain about their future. Employees that have a clear sense of their purpose are more engaged, more loyal, and more productive too. Amidst the pandemic, your team is looking for hope. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that nearly one-third of all Americans currently suffer from depression and anxiety. As quarantine orders took effect, self-help book sales shot up by 39%. Man has been searching for meaning from the beginning of time.... Continue reading...

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August 31, 2020 8:55 am
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Email Etiquette Refresher

A significant portion of our communication happens through email. This is especially true with current work from home set-ups resulting from COVID-19 where communicating properly and effectively through email is essential. Chances are, you’ve misinterpreted an email or had one of your emails misinterpreted at some point in your life. Email can quickly trigger unnecessary conflict. Here are a few tips and reminders to help you use email as an effective communication tool. Don’t read energy or emotion into emails. All you have in email are words, which only account for 7% of communication. The other 93% of communication happens... Continue reading...

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July 20, 2020 9:00 am
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Reflections: What Is the United States of America?

As a country, we are in the midst of a number of events which have upset our (until recently) normal, daily life activities. This unsettledness has created the opportunity to rethink “who we are” as a country – and who we want to become. I’m not the most reflective person, but I have been thinking about the United States – our history (good and bad), our current status, what makes us the country we have become, and how we are similar to and different from other countries (either current, or those in the past.) What is a Country? Countries are... Continue reading...

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June 29, 2020 8:52 am
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Encouragement, Support, and Staying Connected During Quarantine

Last week we conducted a small survey to see how our readers were feeling supported and encouraged, how they were supporting and encouraging others and what has helped them stay positive. We were overwhelmed by the positive answers and examples you gave us. First, we asked you: How much have you felt supported and encouraged by someone with whom you work since the COVID-19 crisis has developed? The average of all responses was a “4” (1 = Not at all; 5 = Extremely)! We were glad to learn that many of you are feeling supported and encouraged during this difficult... Continue reading...

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May 4, 2020 9:00 am
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How Do You Successfully Encourage Employees During Difficult Times?

Anxiety. Discouragement. Feeling disconnected. Worried about the future. All are currently common experiences for hundreds of thousands of workers in the U.S. We are told “we’re all in this together,” “we’ll get through this,” “it will get better soon” – all of which are true (to some degree). But almost all of us have moments when we are emotionally worn out, lose hope, and want to give up. Some of us cycle through these periods rather quickly, others linger in the dark space for a while, and some of us have difficulty climbing out of the cave. Enter: the need for encouragement and... Continue reading...

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April 27, 2020 9:00 am
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Recognizing and Coping with Discouragement

You work hard, try your best, and still, things don’t work out as you hoped. You plan, prepare, think ahead — and yet, something unforeseen comes out of nowhere and creates another obstacle you have to overcome. Life, both at work and outside of work, is difficult. This is especially true now with shelter in place rules, kids at home, and new work arrangements. What is discouragement, really?  Discouragement literally means, “without courage.” We lose that fighting edge to “go get ’em” and attack the challenges of the day. We lose heart. We are worn out. We wonder if “it”... Continue reading...

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April 6, 2020 7:54 am
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The Intersection Between Emotional Intelligence and Employee Appreciation

Emotional Intelligence is a big deal, and a lot of people across all fields have recognized its importance. Daniel Goleman labeled it the sine quo non of leadership. Travis Bradberry found high levels of emotional intelligence in 90% of top performers across a variety of industries. Actor David Caruso called emotional intelligence the “intersection” of head and heart. Jack Welch said that emotional intelligence was more important than book smarts in the making of a leader. Emotional intelligence describes a person’s ability to recognize, manage, and influence emotions in themselves and other people. It is the skill you use to... Continue reading...

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March 16, 2020 9:00 am
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How Authentic Appreciation Can Make You Less Busy

Busyness, especially unnecessary and unproductive busyness, is like the unhealthy rapid growth that can happen in living organisms like plants. 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 existing behavior. So, for example, if you want to start an exercise program, you are... Continue reading...

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March 9, 2020 9:00 am
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Any Day of the Year Can Be Employee Appreciation Day

This Friday, March 6th, is Employee Appreciation Day. And while the team at Appreciation at Work certainly applauds the thought, we want to encourage our readers to consider that authentic appreciation is something that can and should be practiced every day of the year, not just on a single, designated holiday. At the core of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace is the knowledge that 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... Continue reading...

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March 2, 2020 9:00 am
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Dealing with the “Weirdness Factor” in Appreciation

Feeling “weird” about communicating appreciation among team members is normal (especially if the group has just gone through training together on the 5 languages of appreciation). This “weirdness factor” is a common reaction when the appreciation languages are first introduced and teams begin to implement the concepts. What are common signs of people feeling “weird” about the appreciation process? Fear. Fear that others will think you are communicating appreciation “just because we are supposed to.” Fear that people will think your communication is not authentic or genuine. Fear that your encouragement won’t go well or be received positively. Awkwardness. We... Continue reading...

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February 24, 2020 9:00 am
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When Should You NOT Communicate Appreciation?

While we obviously encourage leaders and colleagues to show appreciation to their coworkers, and seek to train teams to do so effectively, there are times and situations when we recommend not communicating appreciation (or, at least, to wait). That is, communicating encouragement to your colleagues is sometimes not the best course of action to take. In fact, doing so can actually backfire and create more problems relationally. 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... Continue reading...

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February 10, 2020 9:00 am
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Communicating Appreciation without Breaking the Bank

The reality is, all companies and organizations have limited financial resources. So, accomplishing the organization’s goals and building a healthy culture must happen within these limitations. Fortunately, building a positive culture with appreciation doesn’t take a lot of money. Rather what is needed is a plan with appropriate tools and the commitment to implement that plan. Communicating Meaningful & Impactful Appreciation Taking the time to show team members that you appreciate their efforts and value them as people (not just ‘work units’) can provide a much-needed boost in encouragement. Research has shown us effective ways to communicate appreciation and encouragement... Continue reading...

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January 27, 2020 9:00 am
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Avoiding Mistakes: How Others Don’t Want to Be Shown Appreciation

While the primary focus of our work with the 5 languages of appreciation has been to help individuals learn how to communicate authentic appreciation in the ways meaningful to one another, we’ve learned that the ‘flip side’ is also important. That is, how do you avoid inadvertently using actions to show appreciation that your coworker clearly doesn’t want? The goal is to communicate positively with one’s colleagues, so making them uncomfortable or even offending them is not what anyone really intends. Since, as an organization, we are committed to learning, growing, and improving, we undertook the process to explore the... Continue reading...

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January 13, 2020 8:50 am
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Setting Goals for the New Year? Consider Finishing Some of Last Year’s Instead

It’s that time of the year again – when we think about resolutions for the new year. Rather than considering a new list of “to do’s,” I’ve been thinking more about the role of perseverance in our lives, and in the lives of those who accomplish meaningful goals. While resolving to start new habits or achieve new goals is obviously a worthy endeavor, I believe sticking to and finishing those tasks not yet completed may be a better use of our time and energy. Our culture idolizes the “new” and really doesn’t think much of the boring, “steady as she goes,” day in... Continue reading...

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December 30, 2019 10:06 am
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Sync or Swim: A Fable about Workplace Communication and Coming Together in a Crisis

Since earliest times, fables have been passed on from generation to generation. Humans are ‘hard-wired for a story’ and fables cut through complexity to reveal simple wisdom. In them we see our own predicaments and reactions, both wise and foolish. Our book, Sync or Swim, helps us solve the frustrating contradiction of morale-building programs that end up hurting morale and of recognition programs resulting in cynicism. The story is written to be a fun, quick read, illustrating ways to communicate appreciation that generate productivity and effective teamwork. Each character responds in different ways to the same situation – as each... Continue reading...

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December 9, 2019 9:00 am
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The Power of Using Stories to Lead

How Effective Leaders Grab the Hearts of their Team Members Most leaders tend to focus on data and factual information. And accurate data is important for making good management decisions. But throughout history, communicating through facts has not been the most utilized method for sharing and developing leadership qualities. Rather, stories have been used more than any other form of verbal expression. For evidence, look to Greek philosophers, wisdom literature from Asia, and the wide range of stories from multiple cultures across the centuries designed to teach guiding principles for life. Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Confucius and Jesus all used stories grounded in daily... Continue reading...

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December 2, 2019 9:00 am
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Don’t Be a Turkey: How to Show Appreciation at Work This Thanksgiving

Team leaders are often encouraged (“bombarded” is actually a better word) to communicate appreciation to colleagues during the Thanksgiving holiday season. Expressing thanks for a job well done is sure to be received well, right? Not necessarily. At times, clueless managers are at risk for saying “thanks” in ways that won’t be received well. They don’t really “get” appreciation and what the big deal is – but they try anyway, and often their actions seriously miss the mark and actually wind up being offensive. Here are some actions to avoid: The “Who is this person impersonating our supervisor?” card. The... Continue reading...

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November 18, 2019 9:00 am
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Authenticity: A Closer Look

The past few years there has been an increased focus in our culture on genuineness, authenticity, and vulnerability – for people in general, but specifically for leaders in the workplace. Like most movements, the call for a return to being truly ourselves in our interactions with others is a needed one. For far too long, we have focused more on image and looking good rather than building substance, true character and competence in our lives. While the pursuit of looking like we have it together is not new, the intensity has been magnified through social media (“likes” on Facebook, becoming... Continue reading...

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October 28, 2019 9:00 am
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Should Appreciation Be Performance Based?

One of the most frequent questions I am asked when I’m conducting training for a business is: Should you show appreciation to someone who isn’t performing well? Tension exists in the world of recognition, employee engagement, and appreciation. There are differences of opinion on the relationship between an employee’s performance and recognizing them. Should you recognize an employee if they aren’t doing well in all areas of performance? Is appreciation independent of performance? To address the issue, I think we need to keep two foundational principles in mind: The purpose of work is to provide goods or services to customers... Continue reading...

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October 21, 2019 8:57 am
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Picking Up Cues that Your Colleagues Need Some Encouragement

You may be surrounded by co-workers that need to be encouraged and feel appreciated, and you may not know it. Not everyone wears a sign that says, “I need to feel valued” or “Approaching burnout: encouragement needed,” (although some of us do wear ‘signs’ on our faces where others can easily tell when we are discouraged or weary). But many people are harder to read—they don’t say much and have rather non-expressive facial expressions. Additionally, some of us are not especially talented at picking up clues sent out by others. Our colleagues may be clearly communicating their distress, but we... Continue reading...

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September 30, 2019 9:00 am
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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... Continue reading...

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September 23, 2019 8:57 am
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Steps to Meaningful Affirmation

To affirm someone is to say something positive about someone directly to him or her. It is about saying something positive to the person about who he or she is. Or, it could be thanking someone for something he or she has done for you. Think of someone who has done something special for you. Maybe you think the person knows you appreciate the favor, but maybe you’ve never actually told him or her. Consider affirming that person directly, and see what happens. Let’s explore how to do that. Remove insincere phrases. First, remove phrases in your affirmation like “I... Continue reading...

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September 16, 2019 9:00 am
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