On Appreciation and Engagement

I have an enviable job; I get to help leaders figure out how to create productive, prosperous workplaces. Yesterday, Amanda Gianotti of Allogram Inc., and I spoke with the Women in Business at the Hunt Valley Business Forum. Our topic was Cultivating the Heart of Appreciation.

It is such a rich topic that we didn’t have time to answer all of our audience’s questions, so I’d like to provide forum for questions and commentary on the topic.

Here are a few of the questions that came-up during and after our presentation. Please let us know what is on your mind.

Q.  If I work with someone who isn’t a great performer, should I still show them appreciation?

A. Yes. Appreciating and rewarding people are not necessarily the same thing, though they can be. Appreciation is about valuing people for who they are and how they were made. Rewards are for motivating.

Everyone is “deficient” in some way(s). It is easy for us to allow our frustration with others to blind us to their value. People who show sincere appreciation for others are able to exercise influence and leadership. Those who don’t have a much harder go of it.

Q. You said that everyone has a language of appreciation; how do I know someone’s language?

A. That’s the million dollar question!  We generally find that people have a primary language and often a secondary language that speaks to them most clearly. A person tends to give what they want. A person who frequently encourages others is likely to have “Words of Affirmation” as their language. If you notice that a person frequently asks how they can help or readily jumps in to serve, he or she likely to understand “Acts of Service,” and that is the language you should speak to them.

What are your questions?


2 thoughts on “On Appreciation and Engagement

  1. Ken

    I took your tip and asked one of my employees what his appreciation language was. He said “quality time” which bumps up against my value of efficiency in the work place. Any tips for how we can both get what we want?

  2. michael boyes

    Congratulations Ken! It takes a some courage and a shows interest just to ask!

    The good news is “now you know.” The other news is that it is the inconvenient condition of mankind that others’ wants needs frequently rub up against our.

    Let’s look at the this from a different angle. How efficient is to try to show some one appreciation that they don’t understand. It’s a bit like pumping vegetable oil in a Prius. It might get you somewhere, but not very efficiently.

    Here a few practical ideas, that may work depending on his dialect:
    – Try taking him to lunch on occasion and sneaking in some work talk
    – How about spending time working side by side rather than in separate places, maybe in your office rather that in the bullpen.
    – Schedule a defined amount of time each just for him to discuss whatever is on his mind.

    And one more thing – a question for you. What would you do if your son told you his language is quality time?

    I suspect that you may, in fact, be doing some of these things for your employee, and for your son. Keep it up!

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