Categories for Communication

Should We Focus on “Mental Health” in the Workplace?

Since the COVID-19 virus appeared, the focus on the mental health of employees has increased significantly. And rightfully so. As a result of the pandemic, major social changes occurred in 2020: “stay-at-home” orders, tens of millions of workers shifted to working from home, children were educated remotely, we were required to maintain social distance from one another (and cover our faces with masks). Family and community relationships were hindered. The practical consequences? Isolation. Dramatic changes in daily life routines. Uncertainty. These tectonic shifts in our lives shook our daily lives to the foundations and created an enormous amount of stress... Continue reading...

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July 19, 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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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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The 2020 Election – A Survival Guide for Talking about the Election at Work

Well, here we are, on the verge of the long anticipated (and for some, dreaded) 2020 elections. 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:   -the unpredictability of the results   -the strong feelings many have related to the issues intertwined with the election   -fears about potential violence and destruction of property after the election   -concerns about how the results of the elections will impact our... Continue reading...

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October 29, 2020 3:10 pm
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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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Coping with Schooling at Home While Working From Home

  “How am I supposed to get my work done while I’m also expected to oversee my children’s schoolwork?” This critical question is one of the most common concerns raised by parents who are working from home. And with the schoolyear just beginning, this challenge, facing millions is both a very real and practical one. First, some context regarding my credibility. Prior to and during my work focused on work-based relationships and workplace culture, my professional focus included evaluating students with learning challenges, and consulting with parents and schools on the best ways to help their students learn. Additionally, we... Continue reading...

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September 14, 2020 9:00 am
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Making ‘Negative’ Communication Healthier: The Differences Between Complaints and Concerns

A lot of comments have been voiced about the increasing intensity of negative and conflictual conversations in our culture – on television, on radio talk shows, in social media, even in our personal interactions. In reflecting on the numerous challenges facing us in the workplace and our community activities (decisions about school attendance, sports events, social gatherings), it became clear that there are a lot of areas in our lives that we can complain about. Almost simultaneously, I thought: “We are in a space where almost all of us can become overwhelmed with the amount of complaining we hear and... Continue reading...

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September 8, 2020 9:00 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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Tips for Surviving Working from Home – From Remote Employees Themselves

Working from home (WFH) has moved from a short-term hassle to a longer, “this is life now” stage. The novelty is gone. The changes for the initial transition are in place. We now have to figure out how to make this scenario work for a while. Who best to learn from than other remote, WFH employees? We recently followed a group of WFH workers, having them fill out a questionnaire once a week for four weeks. We asked a lot of questions, and the results are just being published in Training this week. We inquired about their level of anxiety,... Continue reading...

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June 8, 2020 8:55 am
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Change Goes Better When Staff Feel Appreciated

Change in the workplace is often inevitable. Previously, changes had to be made in response to external circumstances, like marketplace forces, or they were part of a larger institutional plan to create growth and improvement. Now, with the advent of the COVID-19 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 they can take their toll on employees — which leads to uncertainty, anxiety, resistance, low morale and more. The good news is, managing reactions to change can be made easier if... Continue reading...

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May 18, 2020 9:00 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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Why Relational Connection Is So Important During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the need for social distancing, quarantine and isolation so that vulnerable individuals are not exposed to the virus and healthcare systems are not overwhelmed. Collectively, we understand the goodness of “flattening the curve” by each of us doing our part to slow the spread of the virus. COVID-19 is not the only epidemic we are facing. Separating ourselves because of COVID-19 comes at a time when America and many other nations are in the midst of an epidemic of loneliness whose antidote is greater positive social connection. Our current situation—the simultaneous need... Continue reading...

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April 13, 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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Appreciation and (Newly) Remote Workers

At this time of social upheaval as a result of the COVID 19 outbreak, it’s more important than ever to find ways to stay connected to each other. As we all respond to the ever-changing landscape of quarantine, social distancing, and new work arrangements, we wanted to share information about showing appreciation to one another while working remotely. This information was gathered as part of our research on virtual teams and people who regularly work remotely, and there are some valuable lessons we can use during this time to encourage each other. ********** Changes in our daily work cultures impact... Continue reading...

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March 19, 2020 8:45 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 – all are 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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September 2, 2019 9:00 am
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How to Show Appreciation Personally When You Oversee a Large Group

How do you communicate appreciation effectively when you manage large groups of employees? When I am conducting an Appreciation at Work training session with a work group, a common comment and question is similar to what 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.  But I have team members who report to me that I rarely see. They work a different shift or on the weekends and while we communicate through email, texts, and occasional calls, I really don’t have much... Continue reading...

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August 19, 2019 9:00 am
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How Are the 5 Love Languages and the 5 Languages of Appreciation Related?

                              Many of you are familiar with The 5 Love Languages as described in Gary Chapman’s bestselling book have found them helpful in their personal relationships. Some may wonder if there is really any difference between the 5 Love Languages and the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. While the languages discussed in both books are the same in name, the application and expression of the languages in the work environment are quite different than in personal relationships. First, you shouldn’t assume that your primary... Continue reading...

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August 5, 2019 9:00 am
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Practical Tools Available to Apply the 5 Languages of Appreciation to Your Workplace

I like to say that, “Information without application is wasted grey matter.” As a result, a key focus of our work is to provide easy-to-use tools to help leaders and colleagues practically apply the 5 languages of appreciation to their daily work relationships. I want to share about the resources we have created (many of which are FREE) to let you know about the wide variety of tools available. I’ve divided them into categories to make them easier to find and use. Online Resources for Individuals and Groups (free) MBAI Group Report (new) Allows you obtain a summary report of... Continue reading...

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July 29, 2019 9:00 am
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The Ways People Don’t Want to Be Appreciated

Have you ever: seen a colleague become extremely uncomfortable in the midst of receiving appreciation from their supervisor or manager? tried to show appreciation to one of your co-workers, and it really didn’t go well? been at a company recognition ceremony and watched with discomfort as an award recipient seemed to be in agony while in front of everyone? The focus of our mission at Appreciation at Work is to help colleagues and supervisors learn how to show appreciation to one another in the ways that are meaningful to that person. But we’ve found that people also want to identify... Continue reading...

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July 8, 2019 9:00 am
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Leadership Blind Spot: Your Least Valued Language of Appreciation

By nature, we all tend to speak our own language of appreciation. If Acts of Service make me feel appreciated, then I will tend to pitch in and help my colleagues. If Quality Time makes me feel appreciated, then I may often go out of my way to stop by a teammate’s office and “check in” to see how they are doing. If Words of Affirmation make me feel appreciated, then you can expect that I will give use verbal praise to those with whom I work. If a high five energizes me and makes me feel appreciated, I will... Continue reading...

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May 6, 2019 9:00 am
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Why Employee Recognition Isn’t Working

As I have traveled across the country, working with various businesses and organizations, I’ve had the privilege to interact with numerous employees, supervisors, managers and HR professionals. When discussing their employee recognition programs, they report that their current programs aren’t working – they are not having a positive impact on employees or workplace morale. And, in many cases, the ways that most employee recognition programs are implemented actually create negative reactions among team members. Why? Because, as generally implemented, recognition is very different from authentic appreciation. Here is what we found: Recognition is largely about behavior. “Catch them doing what you... Continue reading...

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April 8, 2019 9:00 am
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