The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

Welcome to my The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace book summary!

One-Sentence-Summary: How workplace productivity is dominated by an unseen metric: the level of appreciation each employee feels from other employees and their superiors, which affects their job enjoyment, performance, job longevity.

booboo real-time book rating: ★★★★☆ (percentage of books with this rating: 34%)

Book Summary and Overall Thoughts

I believe this book is too complicated for what it is. The most significant value I got from this book was the understanding and ability to give more appreciation. Not getting the employee’s appreciation language right, or monitoring for a change to their language, or a change to their appreciation language depending on the person and their life is all a bit much. Here’s a summary of the book:

  • Show more appreciation.
  • Do it, how it feels comfortable to you, make it genuine, while understanding people are different and might prefer one type of appreciation over another.

I have a problem with this book, highlighted in this paragraph: “Physical touch is a normal part of life in most (but not all) relationships. For example, I (Paul) was having lunch with a friend and we were discussing this issue. He stated, “It is a tough one. You can’t leave touch out completely. I just left my office and when I found out my assistant had finished a long-term project this morning, I spontaneously put my hand up for a ‘high five’ to celebrate. She finished the high five, we laughed, and I moved on.” On the other hand, one Appreciation at Work training participant freely shared with the group: “I don’t want anyone to touch me, anywhere, any time.” (p. 36)

I suggest not living your life simply trying to not offend everyone, including in the workplace. If your standards are so different than societies, you will be corrected in due time via existing social mechanisms.

This blog will contain both my summary and review of the book The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

5 languages of appreciation in the workplace summary review chart sparknotes cliff notes

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Appreciation Language #1: Words of Affirmation

Preferred Language of Appreciation: 45%

Specific, verbal compliments about ones accomplishments, personality, or character. 45% of employees prefer this language.

Note that general words of affirmation don’t have an impact (ie ‘job well done, Jimbo!’). It must be specific to the person.

A handwritten note could boost the feelings of appreciation in the target, depending on their age.

40-50% of employees do not want to receive anything in front of a large group.

Appreciation Language #2: Quality Time

Focused attention is an important aspect of quality time. Quality time is not necessarily with the employee’s superior. Instead, it’s time with those they value. There are four types:

  • quality conversation
  • shared experiences
  • working collegially with coworkers on a task
  • small group dialogue

Appreciation Language #3: Acts of Service

Some tips when dealing with someone with this language of appreciation:

  • Make sure your own responsibilities are covered before volunteering to help others.
  • Ask before you help.
  • Don’t assume you know what they want or need.
  • If you are going to help, do it their way.
  • Serve voluntarily
  • Check your attitude (ie don’t offer unless you will be positive)
  • Complete what you start (or be specific to when or how much time you can contribute)

You can ask: Is there anything I can do for you that would make your work go better for you this week?

Appreciation Language #4: Tangible Gifts

Preferred Language of Appreciation: 6%

Only 6% of employees choose tangible gifts as their primary language of appreciation. The challenge is getting them the right gift.

A good option mentioned in the book is ‘time off’ that can serve this purpose. This could manifest in coming in late, taking a longer lunch, leaving early, or taking a day or two after a big project.

The book depicts a few bad gift ideas at the end of this chapter that I found entertaining like gifting mugs with the companies old logo or useless souvenirs from a company event and a message to employees to “take whatever you would like!”

You are reading my book review and summary by Gary Chapman & Paul White. Be sure to check out my digital bookshelf for 100+ book summaries.

Appreciation Language #5: Physical Touch

Controversial, and least likely to be an employee’s preferred language of appreciation in the workplace. It could consist of:

  • high-five
  • part on the back
  • hug (for a tragedy)
  • firm handshake

My favorite quotes

  • “To be an effective leader you have to learn how to lead those who are different from you.” (p. 134)
  • “Recognition requires only that you implement certain behaviors: defining desired behaviors, monitoring them, and rewarding them when they occur.” (p. 19)
  • “We may have unrealistically high expectations of our team, expecting more than they are capable of performing. Thus, no matter what a person does, it is not ‘good enough’.” (p. 224)
  • “..one of the most common deficits we observed is the lack of established processes for reviewing employees’ performance, giving them regular feedback, and providing corrective instruction.” (p. 228)

Thanks for visiting and thanks to Gary Chapman & Paul White for writing The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace!

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