Categories for Authenticity

5 Languages Spotlight: Acts of Service

Yesterday marked the beginning of Random Acts of Kindness Week. However, many of us work with someone who practices random acts of kindness all year round. Someone whose preferred language of appreciation is Acts of Service. In honor of Random Acts of Kindness Week, we wanted 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 enacting 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... Continue reading...

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February 12, 2018 8:38 am
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Can the 5 Languages of Appreciation Be Used with Customers and Clients?

From the beginning of our work in applying the 5 Languages of Appreciation to work-based relationships, I have been asked repeatedly, “Can the 5 Languages of Appreciation be used with customers and clients?” I have discussed and explored this issue a great deal with other professionals and organizational leaders, and we were never able to figure out a way to identify and use the 5 Languages of Appreciation in customer / client types of relationships (at least, in a manner with which we felt comfortable). Recently, however, I have had a “breakthrough” in understanding and dealing with the challenge—ironically, while... Continue reading...

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February 5, 2018 9:00 am
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Inspire Your Employees by Creating a Culture of Appreciation

Great leaders understand the value of showing appreciation to those whom they are leading. They realize, by building a culture where all team members feel valued and actively support one another, the goals of the organization will be reached more efficiently and not at the expense of wearing out all who are involved. Misguided leaders believe supporting and encouraging employees is a waste of time. As a result, they wind up spending a lot of time and energy replacing key team members and trying to resolve innumerable petty conflicts and complaints which siphon off resources needed to accomplish their goals.... Continue reading...

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January 30, 2018 9:32 am
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Building Your Best Team: Learn to Value and Appreciate Differences

To grow a successful and sustainable business, you need a team of employees who bring their unique abilities, strengths and perspectives to the challenges you will face. But to draw and keep talented individuals who are different than you, you have to learn a key skill: You have to learn how to lead people who are different than you. There are lots of great books on leadership that provide valuable insights into key skills and abilities needed to effectively lead others. But one concept that is not stressed enough is: to lead a successful team, you have to understand those who... Continue reading...

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January 22, 2018 9:00 am
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Build a Positive Relationship, No Matter Who You Report To

In the past, an employee’s relationship with their direct supervisor was found to be one of the most influential factors on whether or not the employee enjoyed their job. However, this dynamic has changed somewhat. Jared Lindzon, in this article about change and work, spoke to analyst Josh Bersin who says, “Most companies, even big companies, are much less hierarchical and much less top-down in their execution than they used to be. Leaders are finding that they have to be more inspirational, they have to be more collaborative.” In recent years, relationships with colleagues have become increasingly influential in the perception of... Continue reading...

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January 15, 2018 9:00 am
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What Employees LOVE about the Holidays

  THE RESULTS ARE IN!! Over 1,325 of you responded to our poll on “What I LOVE about the Holidays” (with 777 submitting stories of a favorite positive holiday experience at work).  Thank you for your input.  As you will see, the results provide interesting feedback, and the stories are both fun and heart-warming.   Poll Results  On each of the first two questions, you were given a list of 20 items to choose from (more than one could be chosen.) Here are the results:     Q1. What aspects of the holiday season do you ENJOY the most?  1.... Continue reading...

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December 18, 2017 1:42 pm
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Is Your Receptionist A Good Reflection of Your Culture?

A very quick disclaimer. At no point am I intending to disparage the amazing receptionists and front desk personnel whom I have been acquainted with, over many years, from hundreds of companies. Their job is not an easy one. They are the gatekeepers for the company. Customers and clients face them first whenever they enter a building or office. And they, like all employees hired for the various job responsibilities at a company, are a reflection of the culture and hiring process that recruited them. Let me explain why I am asking if your receptionists are a good reflection of... Continue reading...

December 11, 2017 10:00 am
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Don’t Be a Turkey in How You Show Appreciation 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 “I’m off. You’re not. Enjoy the weekend!” message. This... Continue reading...

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November 16, 2017 10:16 am
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The Intersection of Personal Life, Professional Life & Life’s Purpose

Sometimes “life” takes us different directions than we were expecting.  And sometimes life’s events illuminate the inter-relatedness of various areas of our life more vividly.  That has happened to me in the past few weeks. (This is a highly personal entry.  I feel like I need to let you know upfront that I’m not writing this to gain sympathy but just to share “where I am” and lessons I am trying to learn.) Less than four weeks ago, my older sister, Kathy, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that was already quite advanced within her body.  A week later... Continue reading...

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November 1, 2017 4:09 pm
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Neutralizing a Negative Workplace

At Appreciation at Work, our focus is on building positive, healthy relationships in the workplace, and we largely do this by helping people learn how to communicate authentic appreciation, build trusting relationships, and relate to others in a respectful way.  But we also have to deal with life as it exists, and another avenue to build positive relationships is to address the issues that interfere with that process. This is the focus of my new book, The Vibrant Workplace, which is subtitled: Overcoming the Obstacles to Building a Culture of Appreciation. Negativity is one of the most common, and deeply... Continue reading...

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July 28, 2017 11:53 am
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Trump’s First 100 Days: How Arbitrary Deadlines Create Stress

Much of the news this past week has been focused on President Trump’s first 100 days in office and what accomplishments have been made in that time frame.  On the one hand, setting a deadline to review progress made on goals seems appropriate; on the other hand, this process is a great example of how setting arbitrary deadlines create unnecessary stress in the workplace. For the President (Trump or otherwise), is there anything magical about 100 days?  Not really.  The time period could be 90 days, 3 months, or 101 days — the length of time is not directly related... Continue reading...

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April 28, 2017 5:09 pm
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How Do You “Appreciate” Difficult People at Work?*

 Let’s be honest, some people are more difficult to work with than others.  There are weird people; angry, irritable colleagues; and people we just don’t understand.  And appreciating these individuals can be even more challenging. Let me share a few tips on how to communicate appreciation to a “difficult” colleague:      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” when they believe others aren’t being genuine.  You risk undermining any trust you may have with your colleague if they don’t think... Continue reading...

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April 11, 2017 10:00 am
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Don’t Love Your Work? Relax, You’re Normal

    Do you love your work? In some circles, this is the expectation—that you should love your work and if you don’t, there is something wrong (with you or your job). But I’m here to proclaim: If you don’t love your work, relax. You are normal. This is true not only for the present developed world, but also for the vast majority of the workers across the world today, and especially when you consider the human experience over history. It is a privilege and a blessing to enjoy your work—but being enthralled with what you do is not normative;... Continue reading...

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February 9, 2017 12:37 pm
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5 Meeting Principles to Live By

What are the magic ingredients for a successful meeting? A meeting in which participants build relationships, exchange ideas, unearth insights, make decisions, and get the information they need to move work forward? We all know there’s no “magic” that comes without preparation and hard work. But there are five basic principles that underlie successful meetings. Principle #1. Every voice matters Different perspectives enrich a conversation, strengthen a team, and generally lead to better outcomes. Good meeting leaders establish a safe and open environment in which participants can voice their concerns. You don’t have to transform your entire organization’s meeting culture... Continue reading...

February 1, 2017 8:30 am
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The Most Important Factor for a Pleasant Family Holiday Celebration

As we all approach the Christmas holiday, many people’s anxiety level is rising.  Why?  Because we are starting to think about the upcoming visit with our family.  You may be going to your parents’ home (or your in-laws’) or family members are coming to your home, or you may gather at one of your (or your spouse’s) siblings homes.  Regardless of the specifics, it means — you are going to have to spend time with your family (and yes, possibly even interact with them!) So, being the good psychologist I am, I thought I would address the most important factor... Continue reading...

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December 22, 2016 7:00 am
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What Employees Don’t Like About the Holidays

Some people love the holiday season, while others really don’t. In fact, it seems that a growing number of people make comments like: “I hate the holidays!” (Maybe they are just more vocal about it.) To find out more specifics, last year we sent out a survey to find out what about the holiday season employees don’t like – partly for our own education, but also to see if there were practical ideas that when implemented could reduce employees’ irritation. And there are. Over 1,200 of our readers completed our survey (within 24 hours of it being sent out!) On... Continue reading...

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December 7, 2016 11:00 am
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4 Core Characteristics For Success – In Life and Work

In my role as psychologist, I have evaluated over 4,000 individuals – usually with regards to learning difficulties they are experiencing.   In my feedback sessions, I often share with parents the core characteristics that make individuals successful in life. (I define “life success” as becoming an independent functional adult, having healthy relationships, and experiencing a level of happiness and contentment in one’s life.) If parents of developmentally challenged students focus solely on academic success (which is emphasized by their school community), then they can become quite discouraged.  But when we understand “life success” in broader terms – the goals are... Continue reading...

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December 5, 2016 1:31 pm
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Utilizing Thanksgiving as a Reminder to Appreciate Your Staff

Thanksgiving is the holiday where we are encouraged to be thankful for the good things in our lives – health, safety, adequate food, clothing, and shelter, as well as the many material blessings we have. For most people, Thanksgiving is usually more of a personally-focused celebration, including sharing meals and time with family and friends. But the Thanksgiving holiday season can also be an opportunity to focus on, and be reminded of, the positive aspects of our work lives. This is especially true in these more difficult economic times, where many who desire employment are unable to find work or... Continue reading...

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November 21, 2016 8:00 am
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Don’t Be a Turkey in How You Show Appreciation 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 “I’m off. You’re not. Enjoy the weekend!” message. This... Continue reading...

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November 15, 2016 8:00 am
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How Authentic Appreciation Can Cut Through Government Bureaucracy

Government agencies are extremely concerned about their low levels of employee engagement, and rightfully so. When staff don’t feel valued, they become discouraged, passive, apathetic and cynical. This can result from a variety of factors including not feeling respected by customers, poor communication within the agency, a sense of powerlessness to make improvements, and not ‘heard’ by upper level managers and directors.  The issues seem to be the same whether the agency is at the city, county, state or federal level (but federal employees seem to be the most frustrated.) We receive reports from all levels of government employees (frontline... Continue reading...

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October 24, 2016 9:10 am
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Tips for Telling Compelling Stories

John was struggling with how to handle a difficult situation with a key vendor for the company. He went to his supervisor, Stephanie, and asked her advice on what he should do. Rather than telling him what to do, or even giving her direct input, Stephanie replied, “John, let me tell you a story …” She went on to tell a story about an experience she had early in her career and the consequences of her decision over the years.  When she was done, she paused and waited. After a few seconds of silence, John smiled and said: “Got it.... Continue reading...

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October 11, 2016 11:31 am
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Communicating Appreciation to Your Boss (Boss’s Day is coming up!)

Boss’s Day is coming up soon, in two weeks, on Monday, October 17.  And no, it isn’t one of those appreciation days that was created recently by Hallmark, the National Association of Employers, or some other group with a potential secondary gain.  (Boss’s Day was first instituted in 1958, by a secretary for an insurance company, if you want to know.) The key questions, if you are an employee, are:  1) Should I do something for my boss?  2) If so, what?  3) How do I keep from looking like I am just “sucking up” to her or him?  Let... Continue reading...

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October 5, 2016 7:30 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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September 12, 2016 12:08 pm
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Why Cynicism is Good for The Workplace

It seems counterintuitive, but cynicism can be a positive influence in our workplaces. How? When people are cynical, they are giving us honest feedback about how they really feel. When was the last time that you heard a cynical remark from a colleague and you accused them of not being honest regarding how they really feel? (Aside from the sarcastic remark: “So, Janice, tells us how you really feel!”) Cynicism communicates from the heart, so you don’t have to question whether the person is being honest with their comment. Cynical remarks give us a reality check with what was said,... Continue reading...

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August 22, 2016 12:16 pm
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6 Essentials for Full Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a big problem for organizations today. Research has shown that the vast majority of employees are not engaged, thus they aren’t giving their best efforts or aligning their behavior with organizational goals. A helpful way to understand how to engage employees is to consider the six universal human needs to thrive at work: respect, recognition, belonging, autonomy, personal growth and meaning. These are needs that people long to have met. And even if people are not consciously aware of them, subconsciously our human bodies are wired to have these needs met. When they are not met over time, it... Continue reading...

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July 19, 2016 2:00 am
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“Just For Show” (with No Substance): When Appreciation Fails

While watching a movie, you’ll notice it before you can put it into words — something seems very off about a character and it immediately sets you on edge. They claim to be a fierce warrior but run and hide whenever a fight breaks out. You’re pulled out of the fantasy and can finally describe why – their actions don’t match their words. Though life isn’t a big screen production, we can still easily notice when others show us false appreciation rather than actual appreciation for a job well done. Social Awareness Body language developed long before oral language, making... Continue reading...

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July 11, 2016 6:56 pm
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How Appreciation Builds Resiliency

The U.S. government and all branches of the armed forces have identified the development of resiliency as a key goal to strengthen our military personnel over the long term. As a result, for the past 10 years both research and resources have been focused on determining how to make service members more able to “bounce back” after experiencing stressful and/or traumatic events during their service. Much research and emphasis has been focused on identifying individual characteristics, coping skills, and environmental factors that can help servicemen and women: a) become more prepared to manage the stressful events experienced in life; b)... Continue reading...

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May 18, 2016 1:38 pm
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Leading with Character: Gratitude

Definition of Gratitude Gratitude is being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks. Why Gratitude Matters The word gratitude is based on the Latin root gratia which means “grace,” “graciousness,” and “gratefulness.” Religious thinkers and moral philosophers throughout history have long appreciated gratitude. Only recently, however, have scientists come to appreciate the positive influence gratitude has on human and organizational performance. Neuroscience research has shown that positive environments improve the human brain’s ability to solve problems and think creatively. An environment where people possess the character strength of gratitude tends to be... Continue reading...

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April 18, 2016 2:01 pm
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Cutting Through Cynicism with Authentic Appreciation – Part II

Last week we asked the questions: Who determines authenticity? Is authenticity based in reality or perception? What causes people not to believe others are genuine? Today’s post will answer these and shed some light on how to improve a cynical workplace. Common Reactions Some work settings seem to just “ooze” cynicism, sarcasm, and a lack of trust. Probably the most intense cynical environments I’ve experienced recently are medical settings and hospitals. Why might this be? It appears that leadership in many of these institutions have tried to communicate recognition and praise, or have done training on “How to build a positive team”, and... Continue reading...

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April 6, 2016 3:38 pm
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Cutting Through Cynicism With Authentic Appreciation – Part I

  “Are you kidding me? They don’t care about us.” “They don’t give a rip about me. It’s all about my performance. If I meet my performance goals, they’re happy. If I don’t, I’m gone.”   As I’ve worked with more facilities across the country, I’ve become aware that a large number of employees have a very cynical reaction to any discussion of positive communication from their supervisors, and sometimes, even their co-workers. The lack of genuineness in communicating appreciation may be the single biggest barrier to positive workplace relationships. One of the contributing factors to these underlying attitudes of cynicism... Continue reading...

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March 31, 2016 11:04 am
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