As it turns out, very few workers (almost none) identified physical touch as even part of how they seek or show appreciation in the workplace. As more and more human resources professionals educate companies on the hazards of sexual harassment and cultural differences in how people perceive touch, it’s not surprising that very few workers or managers think of touch to say thank you.
Choosing a gift can be complicated if you don’t know the recipient well. Your choice of gift will speak volumes about what you’ve been paying attention to over the course of the relationship (guys – I’m talking to you.) Yes, your gift choice matters, so don’t delegate the task to someone who is not familiar with the person you’re giving to. Be sure that she’s a football fan before giving tickets to the game; be sure he eats meat before gifting a steak house certificate. It’s almost always a good idea to make the gift substantial enough for two, even if the recipient isn’t married. No one likes to lunch or dine alone, and there’s no guarantee that her friends can afford to go with her.
Quality time people plan activities that bring the team together: supervisors who organize pot luck lunches or take the team out for coffee after the conference are showing their appreciation is this tangible way. If you have a team member or manager who tends to connect by dropping by for a chat, pay attention to this signal; it’s easy to get it wrong. Some managers tend to view requests for quality time as intrusive, or as asking for “friendship” instead of affirmation. Likewise, some workers don’t necessarily want to spend face to face time with their managers; they’d rather focus on getting work done.
When acts of service are they language of appreciation that you value, you show others how much you care by doing things. I understand this language well; it’s the language I use in my personal and professional relationships. When I borrow my husband’s car for the day, I fill it up with gas and get it washed. When I see a staff member struggling with a task, I pitch in. I usually don’t just offer to pitch in – I grab a pile of paper and start sorting. (It’s not called acts of lip service, after all.)
“Thanks – you did a great job today.” It’s the simplest form of appreciation and in most cases it’s enough to warm a worker’s heart. Words of affirmation are one of the “languages of appreciation” that managers and team members use almost every day. But are they using it well?
Gary Chapman and Paul White are the authors of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. Their book discusses why appreciation is one of the most important elements of employee motivation and satisfaction. That sounds elementary, and perhaps it is. Everyone, after all, wants workers to feel appreciated. The art is in figuring out how to make an individual feel it; the same kind of appreciation can have very different effects on different people. Over the next few posts, we’ll discuss the five “languages” of appreciation that Chapman and White examine.