Reflecting on the Realities of Loneliness

The increasing references to loneliness in our culture creates a variety of responses within us (some communicated, most are not). Clarifying What Loneliness Is Loneliness is not the same as being alone. Feeling lonely is not just a result of being physically distant from others. We can be in the same room with others and still feel a sense of loneliness. Conversely, it is possible to be alone (physically) and yet feel cared for and connected to others. Loneliness is an internal experience which is often accompanied by sadness, unhappiness and a sense of disconnectedness from others. People who feel... Continue reading...

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December 4, 2023 9:24 am
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Avoiding Holiday Burnout: Tips for Managing Stress

“The holidays.” Those two words are packed with memories, fleeting media images and mixed emotions. The Hannukah-Christmas-New Year’s holiday season has begun, and if you are like me, they cause a rapid succession of excitement, anticipation, anxiety, wonder, and exhaustion (and I haven’t even done anything yet). Practical advice and some you (probably) don’t usually hear. Stress is essentially the experience of having more demands in your life than the resources you have to meet those demands. More stuff to do (make food, travel to relatives) with the same time = stress. Experiencing more people and relationships than you have the emotional energy needed... Continue reading...

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November 27, 2023 9:16 am
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Don’t Be a Turkey: How to Show Appreciation at Work 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 “Who is this person impersonating our supervisor?” card. The... Continue reading...

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November 20, 2023 9:30 am
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An Easy Approach to Thanksgiving: An Activity for All Ages

  Trying to figure out how to make your Thanksgiving celebration meaningful can be challenging. Going around the table and having everyone share something they are thankful for is a time-honored tradition, but it can also feel somewhat mechanical and superficial. So I thought I’d put together a fun activity that might make it easier and more engaging for different ages present, from older adults to children. I call it: “How to Get F’s for Thanksgiving.” Since many of us rely on cues to access out memories, it is helpful to have some present when possible. Pictures, in particular, of... Continue reading...

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November 13, 2023 10:11 am
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The Most Important (and Hidden) Guest at Thanksgiving

We’ve entered November, which means Thanksgiving is approaching. And unfortunately, for many people, thoughts about this year’s Thanksgiving bring up negative reactions and raises our anxiety. (This is in contrast to focusing on past Thanksgiving holidays where we can usually recall some positive memories and feelings.) Why might this be? I would propose that there is a singular guest we all have at our holiday events – regardless of what type of Thanksgiving celebration we have. And this guest is usually hidden, until we learn they aren’t pleased. Who is it? Expectations. Take a moment to think about this year’s... Continue reading...

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November 6, 2023 9:34 am
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Recent Research about Remote and Hybrid Employees

Employees are returning to the office, but with more remote work flexibility than ever before. While it’s clear that remote and hybrid work is here to stay, it can be hard to navigate the continually evolving territory while also ensuring employees stay connected and feel appreciated. We wanted to highlight recent research about remote and hybrid workers and company hybrid policy from Gallup and McKinsey & Company that address some of the successes and challenges of these new work arrangements. Gallup – The Good and Bad of Hybrid Work In August, Gallup released the podcast The Great ‘Global Work-from-Home Experiment’... Continue reading...

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October 30, 2023 1:33 pm
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Answers to Common Questions about Appreciation

When people are introduced to the concept of communicating appreciation in the workplace, a number of questions are frequently raised. Sometimes the questions seem more like a defensive response, with the individual putting up an obstacle that they hope will relieve them from having to take the topic seriously. But many times, the person seems to be thinking through how the concept would apply to their daily work life. So, let’s identify and address some of the most frequently raised issues. “I barely have time to get my normal, daily tasks done each day. How will I find the time... Continue reading...

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October 23, 2023 9:37 am
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What Can I Do If I Really Don’t Appreciate a Coworker?

Let’s be honest, sometimes we have a hard time appreciating some of our colleagues. The reality is, some people are more difficult to work with than others. There are weird people, angry, irritable colleagues, people with a lousy work ethic and poor communication skills, and those that aren’t friendly or have negative attitudes. And there are others we just don’t understand or click with. What can you do? Here are a few tips: 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 for when others... Continue reading...

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October 16, 2023 9:27 am
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How Do I ‘Move On’ When Someone Has Offended Me?

Sometimes conflict at work arises when we feel we have been treated wrongly. This can result in our feeling hurt, embarrassed, let down by another, offended, angry, and disappointed. These responses are the result when someone’s actions (or lack of action) are in contrast to what we believe should have happened. That is, when our expectations aren’t met by others. Whatever the source of the conflict is, we cannot truly resolve it and move on unless we are able to let go of hurt, anger, fear, bitterness, and the other negative emotions we have. The process of letting go—that is,... Continue reading...

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October 9, 2023 9:00 am
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Do 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. 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... Continue reading...

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October 2, 2023 8:58 am
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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... Continue reading...

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September 25, 2023 9:46 am
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Creating a Culture of Appreciation: How to Get Past Common Challenges

While creating a workplace culture rooted in appreciation is fairly straightforward, a number of practical challenges also exist. Even though research has shown that teaching leaders and colleagues how to communicate authentic appreciation to one another can make their workplaces more positive, getting everyone on board can be difficult. After working with numerous organizations to implement the 5 languages of appreciation, we noticed some common challenges and patterns emerge. As a result, we wrote The Vibrant Workplace – Overcoming Common Challenges to Creating a Culture of Appreciation, where we identify and address ten common impediments. You Are Not Alone One... Continue reading...

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September 18, 2023 12:26 pm
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The Different Faces of Workplace Conflict

Not all conflicts look the same. And sometimes we don’t even realize there is tension in the air until someone points it out to us (“Have you noticed how standoffish Julie has been to us since that disagreement in the last team meeting?”). On the other hand, some individuals perceive friction when it doesn’t really exist in the other person’s mind. For example, you may think someone is upset with you because they have been “cool” toward you, when, in actuality, they are not very interactive because they are concerned about their mother who is in the hospital. Let’s lay... Continue reading...

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September 11, 2023 9:00 am
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Life Lessons Learned from Pruning Trees

One of my hobbies is planting and taking care of trees. I love to take a small tree, find the right place for it, plant it and nurture it so it becomes a significant part of the landscape. A piece of the nurturing process involves pruning – which is the process of cutting away dead or overgrown branches to shape and increase the tree’s fruitfulness and growth. Pruning trees is critically necessary for them to grow into well-shaped and healthy organisms, even though it involves cutting and even removing limbs that look healthy. Since I have been taking care of trees for... Continue reading...

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September 5, 2023 8:55 am
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How Do I Communicate Appreciation to My Boss?

Many front-line employees, and even supervisors, have concerns about communicating appreciation to their boss or those higher up in the organization – mainly for fear of looking like they are trying win favor or look good. While showing appreciation can be utilized in this way, most employees need not be concerned. Why? Because, over time, one’s true colors and intent will become evident. One occasion where these concerns come to the fore is Boss’s Day (celebrated on October 16th). At Appreciation at Work, we encourage people to communicate authentic appreciation year-round, but we also understand that this particular day can... Continue reading...

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August 28, 2023 9:52 am
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Overcoming Our Cultural Addiction to Busyness

Busyness seems to have risen to the level of addiction in our culture, and is even considered a badge of honor to some. When, for example, have you heard anyone report: “I’m doing great. I’ve got lots of extra time and energy to do what I want?” But how do we break this unhealthy cycle when it encouraged by many in our society? What is Busyness? To reduce busyness in our lives, we have to first understand what busyness is. Is it a set of behaviors? Is it an attitude? Or a perspective on life? Most people respond: “All three.”... Continue reading...

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August 21, 2023 10:00 am
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6 Reasons Your Boss Doesn’t Say Thank You Enough (or Ever)

Words of Affirmation is just one of the five ways employees like to be shown appreciation. And business and organizational leaders are constantly reminded how important it is to communicate appreciation to their staff — and it is. But sometimes a simple ‘thank you’ isn’t said often enough. When employees feel truly valued and appreciated, good things follow. Team members are less likely to leave for another job, complain and grumble, steal from the organization, or get hurt on the job. Conversely, they are more likely to show up for work (and on time), follow established policies and procedures, and... Continue reading...

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August 14, 2023 9:00 am
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Understanding Workplace Conflict

Conflict at work happens – a lot. And it is a major source of stress for both employees and supervisors. It’s easy for most of us to recall a tense moment in our workplace — to remember the discomfort of watching a not-so-friendly disagreement in a meeting. Or to relive the sting of a critical comment made in front of your colleagues. One study found that, on average, each employee spends 2.1 hours every week (or one day per month) dealing with conflict in some way. Either being directly involved in a disagreement, or managing an issue between coworkers. The... Continue reading...

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August 7, 2023 9:00 am
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5 Misconceptions about Workplace Culture (and How You Can Make a Difference)

Workplace culture is both a hot and important topic in the world today. Companies, organizations, and government agencies are all struggling with the reality that they have seriously unhealthy workplace cultures. Yet many people (including leaders) have significant misconceptions about what creates “workplace culture” and whether or not (or how) it can be changed. Frequent results of these misconceptions include: a) individuals within the organization giving up trying to improve the culture because they view the situation as hopeless b) they want to do something to make a difference but don’t know where to start, or c) their attempts to... Continue reading...

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July 31, 2023 9:38 am
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Can Appreciation Cross Cultures? Or Is It Just an American Concept?

I have had the privilege of traveling internationally to numerous countries to introduce the concept of authentic appreciation in the workplace. And from these experiences I’ve learned that appreciation and vibrant workplaces aren’t limited to certain cultures. And, more importantly, the need for appreciation in the workplace is deeply felt by the leaders and employees who work in these countries. Lessons from a Multinational Training Experience A few years ago, I had the opportunity to train the management and supervisors of an elite international organization in how to communicate authentic appreciation to their staff. Functioning within the tourism and hospitality industries,... Continue reading...

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July 24, 2023 9:30 am
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The Employees You Should Worry about Losing? The Average Ones

A disturbing long-term trend has been documented by research – that a vast majority (up to 87%) of the workforce is either not engaged (read: they are present physically but not mentally or emotionally), or are totally disengaged (they actually undermine the success of an organization). This is in spite of the fact that over 85% of organizations have an employee recognition program (which obviously aren’t working). Don’t Focus So Much on Top & Low Performers A basic challenge in working together with others is that not everyone performs at the same level with regard to the quality and amount... Continue reading...

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July 17, 2023 9:39 am
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Peer-to-Peer Recognition: The Good, the Bad, and the Questionable

Peer-to-peer recognition programs have become quite the rage in the past few years. Unfortunately, they are not the panacea of positive workplace culture they are often purported to be by those selling them to companies. Within the context of employee recognition programs, peer-to-peer recognition generally refers to a tool within a technology platform which allows colleagues to send electronic messages to one another, primarily to recognize work well done. The message may be as simple as “Good job!”, “Way to go!” or slightly more specific, like “Thanks for getting that report to me.” They may often be accompanied by a... Continue reading...

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July 10, 2023 9:00 am
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Weary? Discouraged? Approaching Burnout? How to Use the 5 Languages to Encourage (and Be Encouraged)

All of us have moments when we are emotionally worn out, become discouraged, and want to give up. Some of us cycle through these periods rather quickly, others linger in the dark space for a while, and some of us have difficulty climbing out of the cave. Enter: the need for encouragement and support. Yes, we are all ultimately responsible to motivate ourselves and keep going. But we were also designed to live in community – that’s why we are born into families, to be raised, nurtured and protected. And why we live in broader communities with friends and neighbors. We are meant... Continue reading...

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June 26, 2023 9:00 am
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Retaining Employees: Addressing HR’s #1 Challenge

The Great Resignation which has occurred over the past two years is not just an abstract concept – it impacts our everyday lives. Lack of service (calling the customer service department of any major company results in a minimum of twenty minutes on hold), restaurants closing due to lack of sufficient employees, delays in residential construction because there aren’t enough tradesmen to do the work, wait times of months when ordering appliances – the list seems endless. Whether the pattern of continued resignations will continue is not clear. But it appears we have moved from the Great Resignation to the... Continue reading...

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June 19, 2023 9:00 am
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What Can I Do If I Work in a Toxic Workplace?

The media and social media are full of stories about negative workplaces, toxic leaders, and crazy co-workers. While these anecdotes are amusing for many, those who work in a toxic environment face an unending cycle of challenging situations and discouragements. Worker turnover caused by toxic office cultures costs companies money. Costs associated with voluntary employee turnover have nearly doubled from $331 billion to $617 billion according to the Work Institute’s 2019 Retention Report. If you only had to deal with one inappropriate coworker or a bad boss, your days might be easier to manage. But when you’re facing a constantly... Continue reading...

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June 12, 2023 9:00 am
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Four Steps to Make Sure You Return from Your Vacation Rested

Summer has arrived. And along with the warmer weather comes the opportunity for summer vacations. Getting away from your home, your daily routine and responsibilities provides a needed mental break necessary for you to rejuvenate and re-energize. Vacations can provide valuable time for a mental reset that can be beneficial to you both personally and professionally. Unfortunately, we often come back from a vacation tired and worn down and needing additional time to recover from our trip. To help, here are some suggestions for getting the most out of your time off. The Four R’s Rest. Try to schedule your vacation... Continue reading...

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June 5, 2023 8:47 am
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How Do I Make Appreciation Stick?

A question I frequently hear from those trying to create a culture of appreciation in the workplace is: “How do we continue the efforts over time so that a real change occurs?” This is always an encouraging question to be asked because it points to the individual’s desire to really make a difference in their workplace rather than just go through the motions or do a one-and-done training event. Let me share five guiding principles that can help appreciation “stick” in your workplace: Finally, the most important factors to help appreciation stick in your company’s culture are to utilize the... Continue reading...

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May 22, 2023 9:00 am
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Using the Knowledge You Have Makes All the Difference: Resources to Help Your Team Apply the 5 Languages

At Appreciation at Work, one of our goals is to make it easy to apply the concept of communicating authentic appreciation to your daily work life. We have worked hard to provide a wide range of resources to meet the needs of various types of organizations – from small non-profit organizations and family-owned businesses, to schools, medical offices, government agencies, and multinational organizations. Sometimes it can be confusing to know: a) what resources are available; b) how they differ; and c) which one best fits the needs and culture of your organization. So, we thought it would be good to... Continue reading...

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May 15, 2023 9:00 am
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Do You Have a Colleague Who Is Easily Offended?

One of the core tenets of the appreciation at work system is that not everyone feels appreciated in the same way. And 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. But, interestingly, from training thousands of employees in the concepts of authentic appreciation, 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... Continue reading...

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May 8, 2023 9:32 am
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I Want Employees with a Good Work Ethic. What Does that Mean Practically?

When I ask business owners and managers what they are looking for in potential employees, “a good work ethic” is always one of the characteristics cited. (This is also a frequent response from parents when they are asked what character qualities they desire for their children). Unfortunately, there are many factors in modern society that have undermined our work ethic to the point that one of the major complaints in our culture today is employees’ lack of motivation and drive. Most people have a general idea of what a good work ethic is, but when asked, they struggle to define... Continue reading...

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May 1, 2023 9:22 am
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