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As very polite Canadians, we say “thank you” a lot and as a result, it often flies right past us and we don’t even hear it and we certainly don’t feel it in our hearts. This is no different in the workplace given that studies indicate 79% of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a key reason for leaving. Clearly, that “thank you” is not having the intended impact! This statistic is even more surprising when you consider that, across the board, managers believe that they are consistently recognizing their staff – and they are – with a thank you that is landing pretty flat.

So, how do you raise the level of appreciation in your organization? How do you make sure that those around us, whether you are a co-worker, a supervisor, a manager or a CEO – feel recognized and appreciated for everything that they are contributing to the organization?

According to Dr. Gary Chapman (author of The 5 Love Languages) and Dr. Paul White, co-authors of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the workplace, people will feel most appreciated when the appreciation is given in their preferred language. So, it all comes down to the language you speak.

The next time you want to express your appreciation to someone, try speaking a new language and see how the person reacts to your efforts. You just might find the perfect way to say thank you!

The 5 Languages of Appreciation™ – Give them a try!

Quality Time – the language where we give another person our undivided attention.

For someone who has Quality Time as their language, they would most appreciate you taking time to get to know them, perhaps to share stories about your weekend together and to spend time together doing something other than talking about work. When you dedicate time, without being focused on work, this shows that you see the person, you care about them and you want to get to know them. This makes them feel appreciated – far beyond the words Thank you do!

Acts of Services – the language that provides physical assistance to others

Have you noticed that your co-worker is never taking a break, is buried in work, and isn’t as chatty as usual? This would be a good time to poke your head into their office and ask how you can help. People who have this language feel appreciated when others notice them and make offers to support in some way, so that they don’t feel as alone. It doesn’t have to be a big task – maybe even just making them a cup of tea because they haven’t had time – speaks volumes to someone who feels appreciated with an act of service.

Words of Affirmation – the language that uses words to communicate a positive message

So, in this case you might think that the words “thank-you” would work however for someone where words of affirmation speaks to them, it is when the words are personalized about their individual contribution. When the thank-you is specifically about their contribution, they can see how they personally have had an impact. Anyone can be thanked but not everyone can do what they did in the way they did it, and when that is shared through words, it resonates the loudest!

Tangible Gifts – the language of giving the right gift to a person who appreciates tangible rewards

Who doesn’t like a gift? Well gifts are not as popular as we seem to think. We probably all have gifts from our organization that are stuffed in the back of a closet, waiting to show up at the next Secret Santa. However, if the gift is personalized, is in the form of an experience (hockey tickets perhaps?) then you are onto something awesome. People with tangible gifts as their language really feel appreciated when the gift shows that you know them, that you thought of them and that you went to the effort of getting them a gift. When done right, it is powerful!

Physical Touch – the language of spontaneous celebration

Now this language is one that you don’t see very often in the workplace! Having said that, there is a place for this – in the form of high fives, handshakes, and pats on the back. Depending on the culture of your organization, you may also see this in the form of hugs – which when done appropriately can be very meaningful.

Your Engaged HR Assignment

You won’t always know the language of the person you wish to appreciate, so give each one a try over time and pay attention to how they react. Getting a lackluster response – maybe try a different language next time. Seeing someone’s eyes light up and you can see that they are touched – well that might just be the language for them!

Interested in learning more about the 5 Languages? We offer a half day workshop on this very topic! Give us a call and we can tell you all about it.

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