For many of us, feeling a sense of belonging in the places we work, homes, and with the people we love and care about is satisfying. We work hard to make sure that what we do counts, and that we are able to support ourselves. But more to our need to survive and make every moment count is an even deeper, psychological need: the need to be appreciated.
Appreciation is such an important factor in our lives and workplaces that organizational researchers find without appreciation, productivity in the workplace decreases, and employee morale is greatly affected. Closer to home, not being appreciated by the people you share a home with can be discouraging, and can sometimes lead to hostile home environments.
Many agree that communicating appreciation is important. Then, why don’t we practice it more? As individuals, we lack practice in our appreciation skills. It costs you little to show appreciation on a consistent basis, and the rewards will far exceed your expectations.
The 5 Languages of Appreciation
Appreciation does not always have to be verbal. In the same way we respond differently to different situations, each individual has a unique way of processing and accepting appreciation. Some will have no problem with a verbal “thank you” or “great job,” while others will view the same as cheap talk.
Gary Chapman and Paul White, in their book The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, outline five languages that individuals respond to when it comes to appreciation. Each language is unique from the other, and individuals can possess an affinity for more than one appreciation language. You can learn which languages your friends, family, coworkers, and peers prefer when it comes to appreciation, and use that knowledge to communicate the same.
The five languages include quality time, acts of service, appropriate physical touch, tangible gifts, and words of affirmation.
There are those in your life that will like it very much when you spend quality time with them. In this regard, quality time could be time spent listening to them, or an afternoon at the park. For others, it could be taking lunch together, coffee time or taking in a concert/movie together.
Quality time will mean different things to different people. It falls on you to learn which makes the people around you happy and valued.
Acts of service
This is where you pull up your sleeves and get ready to help where you can. It could be helping your neighbor clean out their garage, or assisting your sister pack when she’s moving house. It could be helping with dinner preparations even when it is not your turn to do so, or helping your work colleague on a work assignment.
Appropriate physical touch
There are those who will feel appreciated through physical touch, such as through high-fives and pats on the back. In the workplace, a pat on the back can be very rewarding and you can make a team member’s day by doing so. At home, a high five will go a long way in motivating your child step up to the plate and take on the next challenge in their young lives.
Many people use tangible gifts to show their appreciation, but not all people value tangible gifts. For those that do, getting something nice for them makes them feel special and appreciated. It could be a simple cup of their favorite coffee, or an elaborate gift like a spa treatment or electronic device. It does not have to be expensive, but something that communicates your heartfelt appreciation.
Words of affirmation
Then there are those that feel valued when you verbally communicate your appreciation. Such people are motived and driven when they hear how much they are of help in the workplace, around the home, and in your life. If you know someone who really appreciates kind words and lights up when they hear your praise or support, then make it a point to say something to them this week.
Even more important than that – spend this week identifying people around you who really appreciate words of affirmation.
Focus this week on interactions and learning the language of appreciation of your partner, coworker, child, parent, teacher, friends, colleagues, associations and supervisors.
Maria Elena Duron is Editor-in-Chief of the Personal Branding Blog. Duron is a small business marketing coach with Buzz to Bucks, and the creator of #brandchat – recognized as one of the top 12 business and marketing chats. She is a published expert on branding and marketing in Entrepreneur Magazine. She speaks regularly to small businesses on marketing that's profit driven and appreciation marketing as a certified facilitator with the 5 Languages of Appreciation at Work.