Why do people come to work? Why, whether inside or outside a workplace, are people looking to you for leadership? 

Research has proven that “money” and “more money” are not the most effective incentives to keep employees motivated, productive, and loyal. In every leadership role, you should be the one who knows what makes people feel appreciated, because that’s the key to their overall satisfaction and alignment with you and your goals. 

Perhaps you’ve read the excellent book by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.

Recently I attended a wedding where the priest quoted from that book. It was perfect advice for the bride and groom. In fact, he said he gives a copy to every couple he counsels. I love the way the book explains the distinctions which empower people to express themselves in a way that the other person can receive and take it in. I love it when intention and communication come together. 

Intention and communication are the bread and butter of every leadership role. And the toast that a leader needs to give to each person he or she leads is one that effectively communicates appreciation.  

Similar to the “love languages,” but modified appropriately, the languages of appreciation are crucial for effective leadership. If you don’t have the distinctions and also realize that each person has their own language of appreciation, you will err on the side of always defaulting your own version. If “Acts of Service” make you feel appreciated, you will pitch in and help colleagues, go the extra mile to be of service where it seems wanted and needed. Maybe your efforts will be appreciated, maybe overlooked, perhaps even resented…because it may not be the right language. 

Another pitfall is when you have a blind spot to others because you are only aware of your own language. Someone may be making consistent and overt efforts to show you appreciation, but if they are “speaking” in “Tangible Gifts” or “Words of Affirmation,” you don’t even hear them. 

The overall theme of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People, according to Chapman and White, is: We believe that people in the workplace need to feel appreciated in order for them to enjoy their job, do their best work, and continue working over the long haul. 

The book not only distinguishes how people have different languages of appreciation, it covers subcategories and makes learning/using these languages very, very practical. “Quality Time” for one employee may look like having 5 minutes of your individual and focused attention; for another whose language is also “Quality Time,” they prefer a regular small group discussion led by their department manager. 

Read the book and think about your own language of appreciation. Then give a copy to those who you’d like to see improving their communication, while at the same time becoming happier in their role.

Wondering about writing your own breakthrough book? Let’s have a conversation about how to get there.

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