The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

By Gary Chapman and Paul White

A Review by Tom Kennedy

If you are interested in a communication method to improve your employee productivity and relationships, this book might have the solution. Moving from his bestselling book on how to express appreciation among couples, Chapman has applied that successful method into the field of business.  I use his appreciation languages in counseling and I think this approach will work as well in business.  In Chapman’s view there are 5 languages which best communicate appreciation.  Each person has one or two preferred ways they want to receive it.  Unfortunately, most of us only express appreciation the way we want it, not the way the other person wants to receive it.  This book guides us to overcome our bias of using an appreciation style we like and instead use a style that will be best appreciated by the recipient.   At this review time my hardback copy is #23 on the ECPA bestseller list.  Chapman’s original couples’ bestseller has risen to #2 on the current bestseller list.  You can tell appreciation “languages” are popular and very useful to relationships. Chapman developed an inventory to use in business thus giving the manager an idea of what style of appreciation to use with each employee. After you implement this method, you should see some significantly positive changes in attitude for most, if not all of them. This book is an easy but important read and if you manage people, I recommend you immerse yourself in a copy.

Things I liked in the book:

  • The number one factor in job satisfaction is not the amount of pay but whether or not the individual feels appreciated and valued for the work they do, p. 11.
  • For recognition and appreciation to be effective, they must be individualized and delivered personally, p. 21
  • It is well-documented that global praise (“Good job”, “you’re a good student”) does very little to encourage the recipient, and doesn’t increase the positive behaviors desired, p. 49.
  • Chapman lists 4 styles of praise: Personal one-on-one, praise in front of others, written affirmation, and public affirmation that is a fine-tuned way to praise an employee, pp. 53-55.
  • Quality time means that listening to what the employee has to say can be the most important form of appreciation to them.  Chapman lists 4 dialects of quality time. It does not always mean just good listening, pp. 63-69.
  • Acts of Service: “Is there anything I could do for you that would make your work easier?”, p. 85.
  • The Power of Tangible Gifts: Chapman gives two requirements for this appreciation language to work effectively, pp. 91-93.
  • Additional field testing …revealed that not one person was found to have Physical Touch as their primary language of appreciation in the workplace, p. 103.
  • [Accepted touching] A pat on the back, a quick handshake, or a high five are example of implicit touches and are common expressions of physical touch in some work settings, p. 105.
  • Chapman developed the Motivated by Appreciation (MBA) inventory to help managers test for the types of appreciation her/his employees would prefer, Chapter 8.
  • The language we value least can become our “blind spot” in effectively communicating appreciation to colleagues for whom that language is highly significant, p. 135.
  • Chapman spends the rest of the chapters talking about applying the languages or how they are applied in specific industries.

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