How Authentic Appreciation Can Make You Less Busy

Busyness, especially unnecessary and unproductive busyness, is like the unhealthy rapid growth that can happen in living organisms like plants. Busyness eats up resources (time, energy, money) for activity that may not be healthy for the organization or its members. As a psychologist, I’m supposed to know something about behavior change, and how to help people change patterns of behavior and habits. One of the factors that we know improves the likelihood of changing behavior is if the new behavior is closely related to an existing behavior. So, for example, if you want to start an exercise program, you are... Continue reading...

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March 9, 2020 9:00 am
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Any Day of the Year Can Be Employee Appreciation Day

This Friday, March 6th, is Employee Appreciation Day. And while the team at Appreciation at Work certainly applauds the thought, we want to encourage our readers to consider that authentic appreciation is something that can and should be practiced every day of the year, not just on a single, designated holiday. At the core of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace is the knowledge that team members will feel valued when appreciation is communicated: regularly, through the language and actions important to the recipient, in a way that is personal and individualized, and in a manner that is... Continue reading...

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March 2, 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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Neutralizing Negativity in the Workplace

At Appreciation at Work, our focus is on building positive, healthy relationships in the workplace, and we largely do this by helping people learn how to communicate authentic appreciation, build trusting relationships, and relate to others in a respectful way. But we also have to deal with life as it exists, and another avenue to building positive relationships is to address the issues that interfere with that process. Negativity is one of the most common, and deeply ingrained, obstacles to a healthy work environment. When working with front-line employees, supervisors and mid-level managers in a variety of industries, a frequent question... Continue reading...

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February 17, 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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Why “Thinking Outside of the Box” (by itself) Doesn’t Work

Most of us would agree that we all have a certain way of thinking. We’ve been taught our whole lives that our own way of thinking is thinking “inside the box.” We’ve been told many times that we need to learn to think “outside the box.” I contend that this doesn’t work. When we’re in a box (our way of thinking), we may hear or see something that encourages us to make a change. We are encouraged, and we decide to attempt to get outside of our normal way of thinking. But when we get outside of our box, we... Continue reading...

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February 3, 2020 9:00 am
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Communicating Appreciation without Breaking the Bank

The reality is, all companies and organizations have limited financial resources. So, accomplishing the organization’s goals and building a healthy culture must happen within these limitations. Fortunately, building a positive culture with appreciation doesn’t take a lot of money. Rather what is needed is a plan with appropriate tools and the commitment to implement that plan. Communicating Meaningful & Impactful Appreciation Taking the time to show team members that you appreciate their efforts and value them as people (not just ‘work units’) can provide a much-needed boost in encouragement. Research has shown us effective ways to communicate appreciation and encouragement... Continue reading...

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January 27, 2020 9:00 am
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5 Languages Spotlight: Quality Time

Many people assume that appreciation is communicated verbally. While using words is one way to show staff members that you value them, many employees prefer appreciation shown through the language of Quality Time. By Quality Time, we mean spending time with a colleague either by giving the person your focused attention, or working collaboratively with them. You are showing them that you value their contribution by giving them your most precious resource: your time. We are not talking about simply being in physical proximity to another person. Many of us work closely with colleagues all day long, but at the end of... Continue reading...

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January 20, 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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Getting the Most Out of the MBA Inventory – How Appreciation Varies Across Work Settings

An important characteristic of Appreciation at Work is that we are a learning organization – we strive to gain insights from our prior experiences, incorporate the feedback provided by our clients, and apply relevant lessons from other leaders. The result? We are continually working to improve our products and processes. We want to provide the best quality and most practical help possible to improve workplace relationships. One recent, major outcome of this continual learning process was the launch of the Expanded version of the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory this past year. In development for over three years, we invested tens... Continue reading...

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January 6, 2020 8:55 am
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Setting Goals for the New Year? Consider Finishing Some of Last Year’s Instead

It’s that time of the year again – when we think about resolutions for the new year. Rather than considering a new list of “to do’s,” I’ve been thinking more about the role of perseverance in our lives, and in the lives of those who accomplish meaningful goals. While resolving to start new habits or achieve new goals is obviously a worthy endeavor, I believe sticking to and finishing those tasks not yet completed may be a better use of our time and energy. Our culture idolizes the “new” and really doesn’t think much of the boring, “steady as she goes,” day in... Continue reading...

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December 30, 2019 10:06 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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Happy Thanksgiving from Appreciation at Work

Dr. Paul White and the staff at Appreciation at Work would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. As we draw nearer the holiday this year, we wanted to share an excerpt from Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation establishing Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday. ********** “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to... Continue reading...

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November 25, 2019 9:00 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 18, 2019 9:00 am
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What Can I Do If I Work in a Toxic Workplace?

Negative workplaces, toxic leaders, crazy co-workers – the news and internet are so full of stories about these things that, for many, they fade into the background. But those who work in a toxic environment face an unending cycle of challenging situations and discouragements. Worker turnover because of “toxic” office cultures costs companies money. Since 2010, 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.... Continue reading...

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November 11, 2019 8:59 am
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5 Languages Spotlight: Gifts

When asked to compare the various Languages of Appreciation in importance to them, employees overwhelmingly don’t choose tangible rewards as the primary way they want to be shown appreciation. In fact, only 6% of employees identify tangible gifts as their primary language of appreciation. To look at the issue from the opposite perspective, employees choose tangible gifts as their least valued way to be shown appreciation almost 70% of the time. Why is this important to know? For two reasons. First, most employee recognition programs emphasize giving gifts as a reward for achieving goals. While there is obviously nothing inherently wrong about... Continue reading...

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November 4, 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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Should Appreciation Be Performance Based?

One of the most frequent questions I am asked when I’m conducting training for a business is: Should you show appreciation to someone who isn’t performing well? Tension exists in the world of recognition, employee engagement, and appreciation. There are differences of opinion on the relationship between an employee’s performance and recognizing them. Should you recognize an employee if they aren’t doing well in all areas of performance? Is appreciation independent of performance? To address the issue, I think we need to keep two foundational principles in mind: The purpose of work is to provide goods or services to customers... Continue reading...

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October 21, 2019 8:57 am
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Characteristics of Successful Teams

Although working with a team of very talented, capable and successful professionals can be fun and exciting, these teams can be challenging as well. But there are factors, when built into the team effort, that can make these “All-Star” teams incredibly impactful. Examples can be taken from many areas of life: music groups, sports teams, legal and political teams, strategic business partnerships. Unfortunately, many examples of “Super Teams” that failed also exist – which leads to the question: What are the necessary ingredients for success? Ingredients for Highly Successful Teams *Team members voluntarily submit to a selected leader (or leaders).... Continue reading...

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October 14, 2019 9:00 am
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How Millennials Lead: 4 Steps To Prepare Them For Leadership Today

How will the next generation lead?  The answer to this question will shape your business and your legacy. Three factors determine your leadership style: How you were parented. How you learn. And perhaps the most consequential, your generation. We are in the most significant generational power hand-off in history. Today 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 years old. Baby Boomers are delaying retirement an average of five years. But the real problem is Generation X. Generation X (born 1965-1981) is about one-third the size of the Baby Boomer population (born 1946-1964). Translation: there are not enough Gen Xers to fill... Continue reading...

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October 7, 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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5 Languages Spotlight: Acts of Service

For someone whose preferred language of appreciation is Acts of Service, actions speak louder than words. Their motto is, “Don’t tell me you care; show me.” This week we want to focus on some of the best ways to show authentic appreciation to those who are encouraged by Acts of Service. As a reminder, to be successful in applying the 5 Languages of Appreciation in your workplace, for staff to feel truly appreciated, there are four core conditions that need to be met. Team members will feel valued when appreciation is communicated: regularly, through the language and actions important to... Continue reading...

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September 23, 2019 8:57 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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Podcasts & Authentic Appreciation

Many people may not see any significant relationship between podcasts and authentic appreciation – but there is at least one. Podcasting is a form of communication which has developed rapidly over the past 5-10 years. Formerly, authors (now known as “content producers”) would share their ideas via a variety of media. Articles, books, and then blogs, communicated with the printed word. Radio and television shows and interviews used the oral and visual expression of one’s ideas. Many of these embodied the characteristics of “broadcasting” – casting out your information broadly, to a wide range of people – hoping that you would find those people... Continue reading...

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September 9, 2019 8:55 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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Making Your Vacation Work for You: The 4 R’s

Labor Day is often seen as the unofficial end of summer, a last chance to spend time with family and friends before school shifts into full gear and autumn sweeps in. While the three-day weekend doesn’t afford as much time as a full summer vacation, it can still provide valuable time for a mental reset that can be beneficial to you both personally and professionally. Getting away from your home and your daily routine and responsibilities provides a needed mental break necessary to rejuvenate and re-energize. The Four R’s Rest. Try to schedule your vacation activities in a way that allows... Continue reading...

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August 26, 2019 8:55 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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Four Questions (and Tips) That Will Transform Your Culture

People grow into the conversations you create around them. The best tool great leaders have to strengthen and empower others is powerful questions. Questions evoke curiosity. They force others to think. And, when answered well, allow others to take ownership of the process and responsibility for the outcomes. It has been said that powerful questions can steer any conversation away from problems and personalities and move them toward meaningful solutions. Powerful questions evoke insight, stir creativity, inspire collaboration and help craft a culture of accountability. So, to that end, let me offer four questions that, when asked often and answered... Continue reading...

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August 12, 2019 9:00 am
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