Do Your Colleagues Need Some Encouragement?

October 2, 2023 8:58 am Published by

You may be surrounded by co-workers that need to be encouraged and feel appreciated, and you may not know it. While some people ‘wear signs’ on their faces or in their body language that show they are getting discouraged or nearing burnout, many people are harder to read. They may not say much or have non-demonstrative facial expressions. Additionally, some of us are not especially talented at picking up clues sent out by others.

Here are some clues that you can watch for to help you know when your coworkers may need a message of appreciation or encouragement:

Irritability and Resistance

When team members are chronically irritable, something is usually wrong. Irritability sometimes indicates they are upset or angry about something — it could be work related or from something going on in their personal life. (Or, they may not feel well physically.) But the problem is more intense when resistance is also present—for example, resistance to instruction and new procedures, or resistance to change. Often workers become irritable and resistant when they don’t feel valued by others for their efforts and contributions.


Discouragement literally means lack of courage. Sometimes people lose heart over time. They are giving their best effort but keep encountering obstacles and then they begin to wonder why they should keep trying. When you hear people make statements like, “Why try? It won’t matter,” or “I’m ready to give up and just call it quits,” you should know that a sense of discouragement has settled in.

Increased Absenteeism or Tardiness

Some people send indirect messages when they are unhappy. Not showing up regularly for work or consistently arriving late is one way to indirectly say, “I don’t want to be here.” A lack of feeling like they matter to those around them can be the foundation for these behaviors. While the behaviors need to be addressed directly by the individual’s supervisor, communicating their importance to the organization can also be impactful.

Cynicism and Sarcasm

We frequently hear managers report concerns about how cynical their staff has become. Sarcastic remarks related to change in policies and procedures can become common place. Cynicism and sarcasm are ways people subtly communicate anger and a lack of trust. Usually, they are accompanied by a condescending attitude. A commitment to communicating authentic appreciation can begin to turn around people’s negative attitudes.

Apathy and Passivity

People become passive when they believe their actions don’t matter and whatever they try won’t make a difference. Apathy is a common motivator behind passivity. Workers begin to put forth less effort when they believe their supervisor or colleagues don’t value what they do. When you observe increased passivity among your team members, take note, because poorer work performance is not far behind.

Social Withdrawal

A clear warning sign of a colleague not feeling like they are valued and part of the team is when they begin to withdraw socially. Co-workers who become less communicative decline offers to go out for lunch or after work, and aren’t as involved or engaged with their colleagues in the office as they used to be are often separating themselves from the rest of the team. They may withdraw because they feel no one cares about them. These individuals clearly need to be encouraged and have others reach out to them.

Negative Work Environment

Finally, when the overall work environment is characterized by negative communication styles, then encouragement and appreciation are in dire need by all. Positive comments between colleagues can, over time, decrease cutting remarks, intense negative reactions and overly critical feedback among team members, but a sustained, concerted effort is needed.


If you pay attention, your colleagues are often sending clear signals that they need to feel valued by those with whom they work. Utilizing the various languages of appreciation, and specific action steps they have identified as being meaningful to them, will provide the best results for hitting the target. Use the opportunity and begin to take practical steps to encourage them and begin creating a culture of authentic appreciation.

Doing so will help the morale within the workplace environment, and will also provide the foundation for your co-workers to feel like they are a valued part of the team.


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October 2, 2023 8:58 am


  • Jennifer Michelle Greenleaf says:

    What if you, yourself need encouragement?

    • Paul White says:

      Jennifer, the best way to find the encouragement you may need is to reach out and let people know you are discouraged, even if it feels strange. Sometimes others miss the signs (that we think are obvious) that we need some encouragement and they need us to let them know that we are struggling. You can also spend a little time thinking of some of the things that have encouraged you in the past.

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