Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, you are probably going to see some extra cartoon hearts, flowers, and all kinds of sweet treats around this month. Some may even say LOVE  IS IN THE AIR. 

Think about how you feel when you are in love with, or even in admiration for, someone. The “warm fuzzies”, the unexpected smiles, a lift in your spirit… who doesn’t enjoy that? This sentiment of positive outcomes was one of the reasons authors Gary Chapman and Paul White applied the concepts of the five love languages (from their first book) to the workplace in The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. 

Why is appreciation in the workplace important?

Chapman and White believe appreciation at work is necessary for people to perform their best, enjoy the work they do, and continue to work in the same environment. Being appreciated increases engagement. Communicating appreciation and understanding another person’s language of appreciation, can help make a difference by showing others what they are doing matters. This is true whether you are the CEO, supervisor, co-worker, or business owner.

Languages of Appreciation

Let’s take a brief look at each of the five languages of appreciation with some examples.

Words of Affirmation acknowledges valuable behavior. It’s not just a “Nice job!” thrown out there. To make the acknowledgment meaningful, say something specific about your appreciation. You might say to a vendor: “I know my request came in at the last minute. I really appreciate the extra effort you put in to turn this project around. Because of your work, I’m going to meet this time-sensitive deadline for a client.”

Quality Time in the workplace involves listening more than talking, taking time to hear someone’s ideas at length. As a business coach, I strive to give my clients my undivided attention, and listen intently when we meet. Rather than pressing into business immediately, I like to allow time to hear about what is going on in their world. 

Acts of Service is actually doing something for the person. Instead of saying, “Let me know what I can help with in the future”, actually offer to take on a task. Your business partner may be swamped, and you are working together on a project. Tell them, “I can see you have a lot on your plate. Don’t worry about this task. I can do it.” Actions speak louder than words. 

Tangible Gifts is really about the thought that counts, not about the cost. A good friend and collaborator knew I’ve been pressed for time lately. She recently and out-of-the-blue gave me a Pampered Chef egg cooker. That thing works like magic and I use it almost daily for a quick and healthy breakfast. 

Appropriate Physical Touch is the final appreciation language and must be approached carefully in a work setting. The actions may vary depending on your culture. Some examples for the Western world are a high five, a fist bump, or even a two handed handshake. It’s important to know that the person you show appreciation to responds well to physical touch. In a virtual setting, you might give a hug or high five emoji. 

Understanding someone’s language

You probably know what your own language of appreciation is by what resonates most with you. The mistake people make with this concept is using theirs to show appreciation to others. It might help for you to ask your employee, vendor, client, or business partner how they prefer to be recognized. Maybe that even becomes part of your onboarding process when you begin working with someone. The key takeaway is to show your appreciation in a way the other person finds meaningful. 

A small gesture or sincere praise goes a long way to helping someone feel engaged, important, and appreciated. So, go out there and put some APPRECIATION IN THE AIR!

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