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 genuine. Fear that your encouragement won’t go well or be received positively.
Awkwardness. We are asking individuals to try something new, and people almost always feel unnatural when trying a new behavior. The problem is: we don’t feel less awkward by waiting (or not doing anything at all).
Why does it occur?
Almost all of us want to be viewed positively by others. We don’t like others to question our motives, so we will tend to wait to do something until we believe others will think we are doing it for the right reason. Secondly, we don’t want to embarrass ourselves by doing something we feel uncomfortable doing. So, we wait until it “feels more natural” – which rarely occurs without practice.
What can be done to reduce the discomfort people may experience?
First, acknowledge it – both personally, and as a group. “Okay, we’re all feeling a bit weird about this.” Then, dive in anyway – waiting doesn’t make the weirdness go away. Often, we encourage people to use lead-in phrases like, “I know you may think I’m just doing this because of the training we just did, but I really do value it when you…” After a while, people are aware that everyone in the training is trying new actions in relating to others, and it becomes the norm.
Is there anything else we should know about the weirdness factor and what to do about it?
Relax and don’t worry about it. Go ahead and act – do something to show appreciation to a coworker. Practicing the model on a daily basis actually makes the weirdness go away more quickly (it is repetition, not time, that diminishes our fears).
Finally, give your colleagues the benefit of the doubt – assume they mean well and are sincere. It takes some courage to communicate appreciation in a work setting where that hasn’t been the standard practice. And if you question their motivation, wait before you judge them. Give them some space (and grace) to try a new way of interacting. Then tell them “Thanks” for the effort!
Categories 5 Languages of Appreciation, Appreciation, Authenticity, Managing By Appreciation, Workplace Culture