Showing Appreciation

Dale Carnegie, author of how to win friends and influence people shared a few principles on giving appreciation.

Principle 1 – Don’t criticize, condemn or complain 

We are human which means that we have emotions. Our emotions are what cause us to criticize, complain and condemn.

Abraham Lincoln, in his younger days before he became president, was a hot-tempered man. He was quick to judge and was known for writing editorials and letters anonymously. He wrote one letter and sent it anonymously, however, the individual he was criticizing tracked down him as the author of the letter. As you can imagine it did not go well. Abraham learned that he needed to be careful about saying harmful and hurtful things about others. Later when he was president, during the Civil War, General Lee did not obey orders to attack the southern Army that was blocked by the flooded Potomac River. President Lincoln wrote a scathing letter to General Lee about how his procrastination caused the delay in ending the war. President Lincoln learned from his past experience and after he wrote the letter, he never sent it.

We can all learn from President Lincoln. There will be times when our emotions get the best of us. However, instead of complaining about your boss or coworker, try to understand them. Try to figure out why they do what they do.  This will breed sympathy, tolerance, and kindness.

Principle 2 – Give honest and sincere appreciation 

The only way to get anyone to do anything is by making the other person want to do it. We need to inspire others to want to do the job. The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.

Kind words can be a miracle to another person each and every day by giving honest appreciation.

Charles Schwab was the first president of the American steel company, hired by Andrew Carnegie with a salary of 1 million said. “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best in a person is by appreciation and encouragement “

When employees feel appreciated by their managers, they are more productive.

4 guiding principles when showing appreciation in the workplace.

1. Not everyone feels appreciated in the same ways.

The first core principle to understand is that employee appreciation is not one-size-fits-all.

People respond differently and it is important to build relationships to learn what type of appreciation the other person responds to. Get to know your co-workers and supervisors. Learn how they feel appreciated.

2. Words of praise don’t work for everyone.

Words (Words of affirmation) are the most commonly used language of appreciation but over half of employees’ value different types of appreciation. Your expressions of appreciation could be far more impactful if you matched them to employee preferences.

Gary Chapman wrote the book “The Five Love Languages” This applies to showing appreciation.

  • Language 1: Acts of Service
  • Language 2: Words of Affirmation
  • Language 3: Physical Touch
  • Language 4: Quality Time
  • Language 5: Gift Giving

Some like words of affirmation and a simple email or thank you card works. Others feel appreciated with an unexpected cup of coffee or gift card to the local coffee shop. Acts of Service, this person responds well to others who help them without being asked.

3. Appreciation isn’t just a “top-down” process. 

While manager-driven employee recognition is powerful and necessary, it’s also important to acknowledge that it’s everyone’s responsibility to create a culture of appreciation at work. Rather than relying solely on your company leaders to power employee appreciation, your organization should create opportunities for peer-to-peer appreciation.

4. Appreciation is most impactful when communicated regularly, delivered personally, and perceived as authentic. 

Appreciation at work isn’t about checking an item off on the to-do list. It’s about expressing genuine gratitude and making your employees feel seen, heard, and valued. And the best way to accomplish this is to communicate appreciation in a consistent, personal, and authentic way. 

I learned a long time ago that when someone pops into your mind, you need to pause what you are doing and call them, stop by or send an email or text message.  Everyone is battling things we know nothing about and too often the natural response is “I am fine”. Kind words given with sincerity will make the world of difference to the receiver. I have a favorite poem by Frank Herbert Sweet that describes this eloquently.

Before It is Too Late

If you have a tender message,

Or a loving word to say,

Do not wait till you forget it,

But whisper it today;

The tender word Unspoken

The Letter never sent

The long-forgotten messages,

The wealth of love unspent

For these some hearts are breaking,

For these some loved ones wait:

So show them that you care for them

Before it is too late.

Showing gratitude and appreciation is everyone one’s job regardless of title or position.

Contributed by: Cheryl Viola, CEO, MBA