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How to Express Appreciation to Your Team Members Using the Right Language

physical touch

Team managers: have you expressed your appreciation to your team members in a way they prefer?


Originating from the 5 love languages developed by Gary Chapman, the 5 languages of appreciation at the workplace aims to create a culture of recognition in the workplace and forge valuable workplace relationships to inspire great performance and retain top talent. (I got that from the appreciationatwork website.)


The five languages are:

  1. Words of Affirmation

  2. Quality Time

  3. Acts of Service

  4. Gifts

  5. Physical Touch


Think about it. When did you feel appreciated? What made you feel appreciated?


I recall a time when my boss gave me an edible gift which he had purchased from his home country as a gesture of appreciation for the work I had done for him. It was a gift that meant something to me as I enjoyed the fruit very much, especially the ones that came from his country. Another time he showed his appreciation toward me by having lunch with me. I appreciated the fruit better.


What do the five languages require from us?

words of affirmation

Words of Affirmation: using words to let a co-worker know they have done something valuable. It can be in verbal or written form. Make it meaningful by including what they had done that was valuable. For example: “Hey June, I really appreciate the time and effort you have put in to train and mentor our new staff in our operational processes. I can see she’s feeling confident and comfortable to manage certain tasks on her own.”

Quality Time: giving them your time and attention, listening to them and giving them a safe space to express their ideas at length is what this language is about.  


Acts of Service: is offering to take on a task for the person with their permission so as to offload some of the work from them. For example, your co-worker is tight on time while re-scheduling client appointments due to a colleague taking emergency leave. You offer to help him take on the day’s rotational duty manager role so he can focus on the rescheduling rather than juggle between the two roles. The acts of service should be meaningful for the recipient and should be done with their permission.


Gifts: is all about gifting! Not just giving any type of gift but a gift that means something to the person. I once received a bubble tea from a co-worker as she found out I wanted to try it but had yet to. No point giving this gift to another co-worker who does not like bubble tea at all.


Physical Touch: this one is a bit of a touchy issue. Some examples of appropriate physical touch in the workplace include a high five, a fist bump, a two-handed handshake and a pat on the back. Do take note of what is culturally accepted in your place of residence or your workplace.


The question now is how do you identify your co-workers language of appreciation?


That’s for another post.




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