Categories for Authenticity

Thinking Ahead: How Are You Going to Improve Your Workplace Culture in 2024?

Yes, we are still in the midst of the end-of-year holiday season and all of the busyness that entails. But many leaders are also reflecting on this past year and asking themselves: “How can we make this next year better? What can we do to improve our culture – connecting people, making them feel valued?” The issues and challenges we encountered in this last year are not going away anytime soon. Helping people stay connected while working fully or partially remote. Less interaction with colleagues. Feeling alone and out there on your own. And it is clear – both from... Continue reading...

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December 18, 2023 10:06 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 20, 2023 9:30 am
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Overcoming the ‘Weirdness Factor’ in Appreciation

Feeling awkward about communicating appreciation among team members is normal. This “weirdness factor” is a common reaction when the 5 languages of appreciation are first introduced and teams begin to implement the concepts. It can feel particularly uncomfortable to speak words of affirmation to a colleague you aren’t used to talking to, or aren’t sure what kinds of words to use. 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... Continue reading...

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September 25, 2023 9:46 am
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How Do I Communicate Appreciation to My Boss?

Many front-line employees, and even supervisors, have concerns about communicating appreciation to their boss or those higher up in the organization – mainly for fear of looking like they are trying win favor or look good. While showing appreciation can be utilized in this way, most employees need not be concerned. Why? Because, over time, one’s true colors and intent will become evident. One occasion where these concerns come to the fore is Boss’s Day (celebrated on October 16th). At Appreciation at Work, we encourage people to communicate authentic appreciation year-round, but we also understand that this particular day can... Continue reading...

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August 28, 2023 9:52 am
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How to Rebuild Trust When a Relationship Has Been Damaged

Trust is critical for any functional relationship—with our family, our friends, and even our work-based relationships. For life to work, we have to trust. The issue of trust—and mistrust—is powerfully relevant in our culture today. We hear comments about trust all over the news and frequently in personal conversations: “I trust that guy about as far as I can throw him.” Trust is essential to work-based relationships for many reasons: effective teamwork, collaboration with suppliers, smooth functioning of the organization to produce goods and services, better customer relationships and, ultimately, to obtain optimal outcomes. MISTRUST IN WORK RELATIONSHIPS There are... Continue reading...

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January 23, 2023 9:00 am
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Four Steps for a Successful 2023 and Beyond

Most people who achieve healthy personal goals tend to incorporate the same tools to assist them in moving toward their aspirations. These individuals commonly utilize four key skills to help their lives move forward in a healthy direction. But some of these tools are not valued or widely embraced in our culture, which makes consistently utilizing them more difficult. Four Important (but often Countercultural) Steps to Incorporate into Your Life Lots of lists exist which outline the “ten most important characteristics of leaders.” These are typically helpful. However, just as we can identify critical nutrients needed to be physically healthy,... Continue reading...

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January 9, 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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Coping with Change Is Easier When Staff Feel Appreciated

Change in the workplace is inevitable. Previously, change largely stemmed from response to external circumstances, like marketplace forces, or they were part of a larger institutional plan to create growth and improvement. But since the advent of the COVID pandemic, change seems to be the only constant in the workplace. Changes in the foundations of how we work and where we work are ever evolving and lead to uncertainty, anxiety, resistance, low morale and more, all of which can take their toll on employees. The good news is, managing reactions to change can be made easier if the change occurs... Continue reading...

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October 31, 2022 9:00 am
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Quiet Quitting Isn’t Bad

(it’s what’s underneath that’s cause for concern) The recent cultural focus on ‘Quiet Quitting’ is a fascinating study in social psychology and influence. Like other 21st-century social megatrends (for example, shaming), quiet quitting isn’t a new phenomenon. Rather, it is a set of behaviors and attitudes that have existed for millennia but have recently been renamed and given attention. Wikipedia (the ultimate authority of defining all things modern) states:   “Quiet quitting is an application of work-to-rule, in which employees work within defined work   hours and engage solely in activities within those hours. Despite the name, the philosophy of  ... Continue reading...

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October 24, 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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What Can You do When You Really Don’t Appreciate a Coworker?

Let’s be honest, sometimes we have a hard time appreciating some of our colleagues. The reality is: some people are more difficult to work with than others. There are weird people; angry, irritable colleagues; people with a lousy work ethic, and those that aren’t friendly (gruff would be a better descriptor). And there are others we just don’t understand or click with. What can you do? Here are a few tips: Don’t try to fake it. Whatever you do, don’t try to act like you appreciate someone if you really don’t. Most people have very sensitive radar for when others aren’t being... Continue reading...

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September 26, 2022 9:00 am
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Introducing the New “Trades” Version of the MBA Inventory

Do you know someone who works in one of the professional trades? Carpentry, Construction, Electrical, HVAC, Insulation, Landscaping, Mechanic Painting, Plumbing, Remodeling, Roofing, Stone Mason / Bricklayer Just like every other industry, employees and supervisors in the trades need to know the work they do is valued by others. And, similar to many other work sectors, the ability to find (and keep) qualified team members is a tremendous challenge today. We have just completed the creation of the “Trades” version of our Motivating By Appreciation Inventory to help supervisors and employees learn how to communicate appreciation in ways that fit... Continue reading...

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September 6, 2022 8:45 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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Overcoming the “Weirdness Factor” in Appreciation

Feeling awkward about communicating appreciation among team members is normal. This “weirdness factor” is a common reaction when the 5 languages of appreciation are first introduced and teams begin to implement the concepts. It can feel particularly uncomfortable to speak words of affirmation to a colleague you aren’t used to talking to, or aren’t sure what kinds of words to use. 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... Continue reading...

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August 22, 2022 9:00 am
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Creating Harmony and Positive Energy at Work

A vibrant workplace draws people to it — quality, talented employees want to work in a healthy context. A vibrant workplace is the antithesis of how many work environments are described: negative, energy-sapping, and toxic to growth. In healthy workplaces, employees bring their own gifts and unique personalities to add to the synergy of a dynamic work setting. This is particularly relevant right now. Recent research by the Sloan School of Business at MIT found that during the recent Great Resignation that employees cited workplace culture issues as the reason they were leaving by a factor of 10x in comparison... Continue reading...

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June 20, 2022 9:00 am
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‘Appreciation’ May Not Be What You Think It Is

When you hear the word ‘appreciation,’ what comes to mind?  The answer may vary depending on the context of the situation. When it comes to financial investments, you want your assets to appreciate – to increase in value (this is also true for real estate and even your home).  In personal relationships, we often feel compelled to communicate appreciation (that is, gratitude) when a friend or family member has done something to help us out, like helping us move into a new home, or bringing a meal when you’ve just had a baby. Even in the workplace, a person’s response... Continue reading...

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May 31, 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: 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 Rebuild Trust When a Relationship Has Been Damaged

For life to work, we have to trust. Trust is critical for any functional relationship—with our family, our friends, and even our work-based relationships. The issue of trust—and mistrust—is powerfully relevant in our culture today. We hear comments about trust all over the news and frequently in personal conversations: “I trust that guy about as far as I can throw him.” Trust is essential to work-based relationships for many reasons: effective teamwork, collaboration with suppliers, smooth functioning of the organization to produce goods and services, better customer relationships and, ultimately, to obtain optimal outcomes. MISTRUST IN WORK RELATIONSHIPS There are... Continue reading...

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February 21, 2022 9:00 am
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Making Things Right When You’ve Messed Up

We all make mistakes. Sometimes inadvertently. Sometimes we did what we thought was right (only to find out later, it wasn’t). And sometimes we just make a poor choice – for whatever reason. Making a mistake at work, to many of us, seems more serious than ones we commit in our personal lives. A misstep at work affects others, makes us look bad to our colleagues or boss, and may have serious ramifications on our work status. The Challenge of Acknowledging Our Errors For some of us, acknowledging to ourselves that we messed up is difficult. While admitting we made... Continue reading...

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February 14, 2022 9:00 am
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Should I Give Gifts to My Colleagues This Holiday Season?

Tips for Navigating Holiday Gift-Giving It’s the time of year when many of us are starting to think: “I’d like to get my colleagues (or boss) a gift for the holidays, but what? I don’t want it to look like I’m just trying to ‘look good.’ But I don’t want to give them some trinket that will come across as schmaltzy. What should I get them… if anything?” I’m going to give you some advice to consider, some of which may surprise you. Unfortunately, in most work settings, the way gifts are given (as well as what is given and when they are given) reinforce our negative... Continue reading...

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November 29, 2021 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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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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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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