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How To Best Communicate Your Appreciation In The Workplace

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Last week, our fifteen-year-old daughter told me about a “really cool” online quiz* her French teacher had the class take. As it turns out, the quiz had nothing to do with French.

My daughter stated that the quiz was geared around identifying your “love language,” and surprisingly, when she and her classmates and teacher shared their results, it spurred conversation, curiosity, and some a-ha moments.

The quiz was based on Gary Chapman’s classic book, The 5 Love Languageswhich suggests that each of us has a preferred “love language” and that we can improve our relationships by knowing one another’s.

In its broadest sense, “love” can be expanded beyond the romantic variety. For my daughter’s teacher, it became a creative way to get teenagers to think about how to understand their preferred communication styles better.

Today In: Leadership

This concept is so universal that it was later adapted to the work environment, shifting from “love” to “appreciation.”

“Because we don’t normally think in terms of our co-workers loving us — the word appreciation fits much better — but it is meeting that deep need to feel that somebody cares about me, and somebody appreciates me,” says Chapman.

Chapman teamed up with Dr. Paul White to pen The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplacewhich aimed to improve workplace relationships simply by learning your co-workers’ language of appreciation.

“Every person is unique in the way that they feel love or express love in personal relationships, but it’s the same in how they feel appreciated and valued in work relationships,” explains White.

And when leaders, co-workers, and employees feel appreciated, says Chapman and White, you improve staff morale, create a positive workplace, and increase employee engagement.

Here’s a breakdown of the five languages of workplace appreciation, how to effectively communicate using them, actions you can take to support each style, and things to avoid.

1. Words of Affirmation 

How To Communicate

As this language’s name suggests, use words to affirm, encourage, and appreciate people. Employ empathy to understand your colleagues better and actively listen to them to signal your interest.

Actions To Take

Provide verbal praise in front of others—in a team meeting or when you’re with customers, for instance. Regularly send unexpected messages, emails, or texts of encouragement to foster closer work relationships.

Things To Avoid

Offering non-constructive criticism or failing to recognize your workmates’ efforts, which will leave others feeling frustrated and unappreciated.

2. Quality Time 

How To Communicate

The best way to use this language is to give others your undivided attention.

Actions To Take

Schedule time for one-on-one, uninterrupted, and focused conversations. Maintain eye contact. Arrange activities outside of the office to hang out together with colleagues . each of these actions will build trust and deepen team relationships.

Things To Avoid

Four words: put away your phone!

3. Acts of Service 

How To Communicate

With this language, actions speak louder than words.

Actions To Take

Help alleviate a colleague’s workload by offering your assistance, and then perform the service in a way the recipient wants it done. Use phrases like “I’ll help…” to let them know you’re with them and be clear about how much time you have to assist.

Things To Avoid

Not following through on tasks you promised to take care of.

4. Tangible Gifts

How To Communicate

Despite its name, this language is less about the “gift’” and more about the thought behind it.

Actions To Take

Get to know what is important or valued by the recipient and ensure the gift reflects this knowledge. A caffeine junkie would love a gift card to her favorite coffee house, and a team that’s been working around the clock might appreciate spa gift cards to unwind.

Things To Avoid

Forgetting special milestones or a giving a generic gift with no link to its recipient.

5. Appropriate Physical Touch 

How To Communicate

This language uses appropriate physical touch to demonstrate appreciation.

Actions To Take

Offer a high five, handshake, fist bump, or a pat on the back when acknowledging someone for a great job. These spontaneous displays of celebration help build positive work-based relationships.

Things To Avoid

Personal boundaries are important to keep in mind with this language of appreciation, so avoid unwanted touch.

Bringing It All Together

In the workplace, effectively communicating authentic appreciation and encouragement isn’t one-size-fits-all, nor is it restricted to a single language of appreciation. The best way to express your gratitude in the workplace starts with asking others their preferences so you can better relate to one other and deepen your relationships.

*Curious about your love language? For a fun diversion, take the Buzzfeed quiz here.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I’m a social media ghostwriter who helps leaders craft their stories to communicate and connect better. As a former branding consultant, my role is to make it easier for my clients to share their unique talents and insights on a consistent basis, magnifying both their reach and impact. Throughout my career, I’ve attracted people eager to tell their tales of transformation. I’ve been a professional storyteller who helped my clients share their stories in a clear and engaging manner, and thus better connect with their intended audiences. Or, as my tagline long said, “People tell me things; I write their stories.” I’m also a frequent speaker, and co-author with Bruce Kasanoff of “I Am: Escape Distractions, Unlock Your Imagination & Unleash Your Potential.”

Source: How To Best Communicate Your Appreciation In The Workplace

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