Categories for Communication

Your Most Important Group of Employees: The Average Ones

NOTE: This is an exclusive preview from my new book, The Vibrant Workplace: Overcoming the Obstacles to Building a Culture of Appreciation, which will release on April 4 and can be pre-ordered now (go here for a special pre-release offer with access to a “behind the scenes” video interview).      *          *          *          *          *          * A vibrant workplace has a number of important core characteristics, but one is readily apparent: work gets done. Sometimes leaders (especially managers and executives) assume that, because I talk a lot about appreciating others in the workplace, that I am all about relationships (being... Continue reading...

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March 21, 2017 10:56 am
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Traditional Recognition Programs and Why They Don’t Work

Building a vibrant workplace requires a foundation of trust, respect, and honest communication. But many managers and employees are well aware of the problems with traditional recognition programs, how they breed cynicism and apathy and come across as a one-size-fits- all approach. I hear this over and over. When I talk with employees, front-line supervisors, and mid level managers about their companies’ efforts to improve staff morale, usually through employee recognition programs, the most common responses I get are negative. “They don’t care about us; they just do this recognition stuff to make themselves look good,” said one employee. “It’s... Continue reading...

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February 16, 2017 1:03 pm
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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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What Leaders Need to Be Communicating to Their Workforce

Ask any worker in corporate America and most will tell you: business leaders could be communicating more effectively with their workforce. Data collected in an Interact/Harris poll shows that most leaders aren’t engaging in crucial communication moments that could help establish trust. In fact, 91% of employees who responded to the poll said communication issues drag executives down. Instead of using effective communication strategies, leaders often display a lack of emotional intelligence by micromanaging, being indecisive, and attempting to hide their mistakes. By comparison, effective leaders are intentional about communicating with their workforce. Here are 5 ways leaders can communicate... Continue reading...

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January 19, 2017 5:00 pm
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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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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 hierarchal 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... Continue reading...

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November 11, 2016 8:00 am
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Improve Employee Engagement by using the DISC assessment and the 5 Languages of Appreciation

  Employee engagement has been shown to be an important factor that predicts healthier and more productive organizations. As a result, thousands of organizations assess the level of engagement for their employees annually, and attempt to implement strategies and programs to improve their engagement from year to year. However, many leaders have found that it is not that easy to increase the level of team members’ engagement. This is especially true in the area of how to increase employees’ sense of being valued and appreciated for their contributions. The DISC and the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory are two online assessment... Continue reading...

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November 3, 2016 8:20 am
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Engage Others by Helping Them Understand You

Recently, I had the privilege of conducting some communication training for a group.  We had done some previous communication training together on foundational issues of listening, so they were ready to work on some additional skills for building relationships with others. The skill set we worked on was the ways you can assist the person with whom you are talking to better understand you. Providing the context of your thoughts was the skill we focused on.  When we give each other the context of our thoughts — that is, the reason or purpose of our sharing — this greatly enhances others’ ability tounderstand us.  And... Continue reading...

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October 19, 2016 8:00 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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Be Careful about Trying to Show Appreciation During Unstable Times

While we know that good things happen when employees feel appreciated, communicating appreciation to staff is not a miracle salve that cures all wounds. Sometimes well-meaning supervisors (and sometimes leaders who don’t want to do the hard work of dealing with problems) try to use appreciation as a “quick fix” for deeper issues that need to be addressed. Here are five sets of circumstances when appreciation should not be the first action taken: Employees are not getting paid regularly. One time I was asked to train staff of a non-profit organization in how to show appreciation to one another. Throughout... Continue reading...

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September 26, 2016 2:05 pm
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Characteristics of Highly Successful Individuals

I have had the opportunity to work closely with business teams comprised of highly talented and successful professionals. Some of these high-powered teams work together well and achieve amazing results, while some of the teams are struggling a bit in working together effectively. And one of the teams had to reorganize because the team members couldn’t figure out how to work together. I’ve made some observations as well as pulled some information from other sources, about what needs to happen for a team of All-Stars to be successful as a team. Characteristics of Successful Individuals First, let’s look at some... Continue reading...

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September 16, 2016 9:00 am
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Practical Suggestions for Showing Appreciation in Day to Day Work Life

One of the most common questions we receive is: “How do you keep the concept of communicating appreciation going in the workplace?” We have found the following action steps to be extremely helpful in helping appreciation and encouragement become part of a workplace culture: Start your staff meetings with reports of examples of appreciation & encouragement being given.  Reinforce the importance of appreciation by starting meetings with team members sharing examples of receiving appreciation or observing someone else encouraging a colleague.  (If you wait until the end of the meeting, you’re at risk of “running out of time.”)  At the beginning, share... Continue reading...

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August 25, 2016 1:00 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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No One Is An Island In The Workplace

When I discuss the topic of appreciation with leaders, sometimes they mention employees who reject the notion. For example, someone in their organization will say: “I don’t need appreciation from others. I am self-motivated.” Or, they make comments that imply, “This appreciation-stuff is a bunch of hooey.” However, on closer examination, I have found that this resistance often reveals a different mindset that needs to be addressed. Some people equate the term “appreciation” with receiving verbal praise from others. Yet, there are individuals who don’t value positive words from others, because it’s not an important form of communication to them for... Continue reading...

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August 15, 2016 3:06 pm
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Do You Have a Colleague Who is Easily Offended?

Not everyone feels appreciated in the same way. The more often we communicate appreciation in the ‘language’ and specific actions preferred by our colleagues, the more likely we are to ‘hit the mark’ in truly encouraging them and helping them feel valued. As we have trained thousands of employees in the concepts of authentic appreciation (both directly and through our Appreciation at Work Certified Facilitators) we have found that: A person’s primary language of appreciation is often the language in which they are most easily offended! So if you have a colleague or supervisor who seems to get upset easily... Continue reading...

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July 23, 2016 12:23 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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2 Concerns: Generational Work Ethic in the Workplace

As we explore the challenges that arise in businesses from perceived generational differences, two issues often arise. Concern #1: Not all differences cited as “generational” are actually based in the generation of the employees. In actuality, many of the issues are common challenges in workplace relationships (lack of trust, feeling treated disrespectfully, poor communication) but they have some generational veneer that makes them look differently.  For example, what is perceived as “disrespectful” often differs across generations.  Millennials often feel disrespected when they are not asked for their input, while older employees may not feel treated respectfully if their opinion (with... Continue reading...

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April 27, 2016 7:03 am
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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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Is “Love” Appropriate at Work?

Being in a “love” relationship at work? Is that appropriate (or some might ask, is it even feasible?) It depends, largely, I think, on what you mean by “love”. Our culture has numerous definitions and uses of the word love (“I love their sushi here!”), but when used in the context of relationships, we tend to think of the type of love related to “falling in love” or “being in love”. This is unfortunate because there are actually different types of ways to “love” within a relationship. Let me describe a few: Romantic love. Displayed in movies and other media,... Continue reading...

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April 12, 2016 8:24 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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5 Ways to Communicate Appreciation in Networking

Communicating genuine appreciation has been on my mind lately. And, it’s a good thing since I appreciate any opportunity to focus on the good and the good things that come from connecting with other people. In networking with others, it is about forming friendships and alliances.  It is about seeing who is a good fit with your values, your business and your business goals. Realistically we know that good networking takes work. When someone’s taken the time to meet with you, converse with you or carry a conversation further than a mixer, how do you communicate appreciation in a way... Continue reading...

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March 10, 2016 7:00 am
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Too Much Information — Tips for Managing Information Overload

“TMI”  (“too much information”) is a message teens and young adults sometimes send to their peers — or even their parents.  But usually it is used in the context of  “that is more personal or detailed information about that situation than I ever wanted to know.” As is becoming more and more obvious, however, “too much information” is an issue that is affecting the quality of our lives.  There is no longer any doubt that there is far more information available and being generated than anyone can process. But how we deal with information overload is partially related to our... Continue reading...

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February 17, 2016 7:00 am
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Appreciation in an International Multi-Cultural Organization

Recently, I had the privilege to provide training in communicating authentic appreciation to the management and supervisors of an elite international organization.  Functioning within the tourism and hospitality industries, the staff (in one location) come from over 40 countries and six continents. As I approached the training, I was interested to see and hear if the staff desired to be appreciated for their work.  Additionally, I wanted to find out whether communicating appreciation in the workplace was relevant across many cultures.  Finally, I was curious to learn various ways employees felt comfortable receiving appreciation and what the challenges might be... Continue reading...

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July 29, 2015 11:47 am
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Do You Really Want Tolerance…Or Respect?

“Tolerance is something you have for alcohol or someone with body odor…versus focusing on Respect.  Respect demands more. It demands an active role.” I first heard this unique view on tolerance from speaker and author Bruce Jacobs, speaking about his book, “Race Manners.” His basic premise is that you should never let yourself get away with simple tolerance. You don’t want to feel merely tolerated, and neither do others. For example, when I come home at night after a long day of training, I hope my wife is not looking out the window as I drive up and saying to... Continue reading...

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July 20, 2015 10:08 pm
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5 Ways to Scatter Sunshine

There’s an old song I always find cheering. It’s called “Scatter Sunshine” and gives terrific advice about how you can make the world a better place every day. The first verse reads: In a world where sorrow ever will be known Where are found the needy and the sad and lone, How much joy and comfort you can all bestow, If you scatter sunshine everywhere you go.   Scatter sunshine all along your way. Cheer and bless and brighten Every passing day.   In a world full of people complaining about everything going wrong in their lives and where the... Continue reading...

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June 1, 2015 5:30 am
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Two-Way Communication: Essential to Employee Engagement

Doug Conant, former turn-around CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, and Keven Kruse, a serial entrepreneur and popular keynote speaker, have something in common. Both believe that two-way communication is essential to employee engagement. Since employee engagement drives job satisfaction, high productivity, and low turnover, it is worth taking a minute or two to consider their perspective. What is employee engagement? It is the emotional connection that an employee has to the organization and its goals. A 2011 Gallup poll found that only 29% of the workforce is engaged at work. That means that more than two-thirds of people are... Continue reading...

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April 8, 2015 2:00 am
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