5 Simple Ways to Appreciate People
Have you ever had the experience that you appreciate someone, and then you hear them complain sometime later: “I don’t feel appreciated by you for all that I do around here.”
Are they just impossible to please?
You clearly remember telling them what a fantastic job they did and how much it meant to you. You did your best to articulate it well. And yet, they didn’t seem moved by what you said. It was as if they didn’t understand or hear much of it. What if they genuinely didn’t? What if they speak a different “appreciation language” than you?
How knowing different appreciation languages can make your team and company stronger
As mentioned in the example above, you may think that you appreciated someone a lot, but it was hardly registered by them as such. Unless you understand where the communication breakdown happened, you may risk alienating your team member or another employee in the workplace.
Knowing and understanding the different ways that people feel appreciated the most can improve the health of your relationships and strengthen the motivation, engagement, and performance of your team and company overall.
Not recognizing the various appreciation languages can lead to many detrimental results for you and the company. At the top of the list are higher turnover rates, lower team performance, and dissatisfying personal relationships.
More than 19 Million US workers have quit their jobs since April 2021 and the Great Resignation is the new challenge that many companies are facing. Did you know, that being and feeling appreciated is among the MOST IMPORTANT things that employees consider when deciding between staying or going these days?
Have a look at the research by McKinsey & Company if you are not convinced.
See how important it is – especially these post-covid days – to know how to appreciate others – for more reasons than one?
Types of Appreciation Languages
How did it all start? Dr. Gary Chapman developed the concept of love/appreciation languages almost 30 years ago. As a marriage counselor, he noticed that he heard the same complaints over and over. He asked himself a question: “When someone said, ‘I feel like my spouse doesn’t love me,’ what do they actually want?” and through reviewing years of session notes, he discovered that there are five main ways that people prefer giving and receiving love and appreciation. The concept of “5 Love/Appreciation Languages” was born and has improved millions of personal and professional relationships across the globe ever since.
So what are the five types of love or appreciation languages?
Words of Affirmation
When you speak the ‘Words of Affirmation’ language, you verbally acknowledge the person’s positive traits or characteristics.
If you neglect affirming someone who mainly speaks this language, even if you give them a raise, they may leave as they wouldn’t feel valued. For someone, more money is not a deal-breaker.
Just like in the English language, there are different dialects and accents, so there are slightly different ways people prefer receiving words of appreciation.
You can praise for an accomplishment, affirm their character, or praise their personality. Some enjoy being appreciated in front of others; some would get deeply uncomfortable and prefer to receive your appreciation in private.
Is it getting too complicated? Just like learning a new language, the more you use it and learn about it, the better you get at it, and the more natural it becomes.
Don’t get discouraged if it seems overwhelming. Let’s keep it simple going forward – and at the end will share with you some additional resources that can help.
People with “Quality Time” as their main appreciation language thrive when given at least a few moments of undivided attention. When you do that, that’s when they feel seen, heard, valued, and appreciated. Don’t check your phone or watch it when you are with them! Be it your partner or a business meeting.
“Managers who understand that people have different languages of appreciation will discover that some team members need individual time and attention to feel like they are an important part of the team”— Chapman 58
Acts of Service
Those who prefer “Acts of Service” as their primary love/appreciation language might not care about what you say as much (unlike Words of Affirmation people); for them, what speaks volumes about how much you care is what you do help them.
It could range from receiving a back massage from your partner in your personal life to helping with a short brainstorming session to resolve a challenge your team member is facing in your business. Avoid over-promising and under-delivering with people who value acts of service above words.
Even though this Tangible Gifts Language seems on the surface to be more materialistic, don’t get tricked by the looks of it.
Receiving gifts is not necessarily about the gift per se. It is more about the thought, care, and energy you put into picking and obtaining the APPROPRIATE gift for THEM. It is about remembering the dates important to them. Be it their birthday. Or special occasion and celebrating it with something tangible, so they see you value them and care about them.
If you forget about their special event, they don’t feel like being special to you.
Those who prefer physical touch as their main love/appreciation language will not feel close to you if you keep your distance. This area is a bit tricky – so threat VERY lightly in the work environment.
Not just sexual harassment concerns are to be worried about. With the COVID-19 problems, being physically close to someone may become double uncomfortable these days for some people.
A new version of this language might develop soon.
Instead of shaking hands, perhaps in the future, what will be considered as “appropriate” will be just waving at each other or a soft “elbow bump.” Or a specific nod. Who knows?
Resources to Learn and APPLY
I’m guilty as charged of reading something, remembering maybe for a few days, or weeks, and unless I write about it, apply it somehow regularly, I forget.
Knowledge is good, but true power is in the ability to apply that knowledge. Wouldn’t you agree?
If you learn to recognize and skillfully speak the different appreciation languages, people around you will become more empowered. They will be seen, heard, understood by you. Your relationships will improve, and the team morale, engagement and performance with it. Wouldn’t you want that?
So what would you need to do to learn how the key people in your work and personal life like to be appreciated?
Many of my clients started their “appreciation language literacy journey” by going to the free love language test on Dr. Gary Chapman’s website, sharing it with others, and starting practicing it with their spouses, children, and friends.
For those of you who would like to learn even more, here is Gary Chapman’s and Dr. Paul White’s book on applying love languages in the workplace. It includes code to take an online test with suggestions specific to your industry. If interested, go to The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People by Northfield Publishing
I wish you to be appreciated the way that feels great to you. May you have ease and fun appreciating others and many improved, satisfying personal and professional relationships!
If we are not connected on LinkedIn yet, I invite you to reach out and say hello and share what is your favorite appreciation language 🙂