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The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People

4.1 9
by Gary Chapman, Paul White

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The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People, by Gary Chapman and Paul White, applies the love language concept to the workplace. This book helps supervisors and managers effectively communicate appreciation and encouragement to their employees, resulting in higher levels of job satisfaction,


The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People, by Gary Chapman and Paul White, applies the love language concept to the workplace. This book helps supervisors and managers effectively communicate appreciation and encouragement to their employees, resulting in higher levels of job satisfaction, healthier relationships between managers and employees, and decreased cases of burnout.

Ideal for both the profit and non-profit sectors, the principles presented in this book have a proven history of success in businesses, schools, medical offices, churches, and industry. Each book that has not been previously used contains an access code for the reader to take a comprehensive online MBA Inventory (Motivating By Appreciation)—a $15 value.

The inventory is designed to provide a clearer picture of an individual’s primary language of appreciation and motivation as experienced in a work-related setting. This assists managers and supervisors in communicating effectively to their team members, and thus building a more positive and productive work environment.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"I loved this book so much that I gave a copy to several co-workers. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace helped me to understand the most appropriate ways to show affirmation and give positive feedback to co-workers and volunteers in ways that speak to them based on their primary "Appreciation Language." Great team building exercise to do with department staff, managerial teams, or executive teams." Reviewed by Sue D, Net Galley, May 16, 2014, Rated 5 of 5 stars.

Publishers Weekly
Chapman's bestselling The Five Love Languages meets psychologist White's work with businesses, and a new "Languages" application is born. According to the authors, the main reason for job satisfaction or dissatisfaction is "whether or not the individual feels appreciated and valued for the work they do." The book presents the five languages of appreciation—Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Tangible Gifts, Physical Touch—and how they are applied in the workplace. Chapman and White call it the "Motivating by Appreciation" model, explained in the book and offered online at appreciationatwork.com. The authors provide much useful information for owners, managers, and workers in industries ranging from nonprofits to schools, medical offices to manufacturers. They pay special attention to volunteers. This is a well-researched, useful book for business leaders that offers a much needed message that won't wear out with repetition: "If people enjoy their work and feel appreciated... they are far more likely to have organizational loyalty and work hard." The book comes from a Christian publisher, but has wide application. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Lack of appreciation results in lost productivity, low morale, and, ultimately, costly workforce turnover. Capitalizing on the ongoing success of his The 5 Love Languages, Chapman joins with psychologist White to translate the love languages for the workplace. The inclusion of the MBA Inventory will assist one's determination of and actions to express appreciation. Appreciation languages work for individuals to share with their supervisory or peer-to-peer expressions of appreciation. Veteran narrator Wes Bleed holds the listener's attention from chapter to chapter. Practical and appropriate for all workplace or volunteer environments, highly recommended for all adult listeners.—M. Gail Preslar, formerly with Eastman Chemical Co. Business Lib., Kingsport, TN

Product Details

Moody Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People


Copyright © 2011 Gary D. Chapman and Paul E. White
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8024-6198-8

Chapter One


The Concept

I (Gary) was having dinner with a friend who is a paid employee of a large nonprofit organization. I shared with him that Dr. White and I were working on the Motivating by Appreciation Project. When I finished my brief overview, 1 said to him, "Could I ask you a personal question about your own work?" "Certainly," he said.

I continued, "On a scale of 0–10, how appreciated do you feel by your immediate supervisor?" "About 5," he said. I could detect a tinge of disappointment in his voice when he said 5.

My second question followed. "On a scale of 0–10, how appreciated do you feel by your coworkers?" "About an 8," he said. "How many people work closely with you?" I inquired. "Two," he responded. "Do you feel equally appreciated by the two of them?" I asked. "No," he said. "One would be a 6 and the other a 9. That's why I said about an 8."

Research indicates that employees favor recognition from managers and supervisors by a margin of 2–1 over recognition from coworkers. However, most of us would agree that if we feel appreciated by our coworkers, life is much more pleasant. Whether you are a business owner, CEO, supervisor, or a coworker, this book is designed to help you communicate appreciation in a way that will be meaningful to the individuals with whom you work.

Why is feeling appreciated so important in a work setting? Because each of us wants to know that what we are doing matters. Without a sense of being valued by supervisors and colleagues, workers start to feel like a machine or a commodity. If no one notices a person's commitment to doing the job well, motivation tends to diminish over time. Steven Covey, author of the bestselling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, feels so strongly about people's need for appreciation that he states: "Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival, to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated."

When relationships are nor nurtured by a sense of appreciation, the results are predictable:

• Team members will experience a lack of connectedness with others and with the mission of the organization.

• Workers will tend to become discouraged, feeling "There is always more to do and no one appreciates what I'm doing."

• Often employees will begin to complain about their work, their colleagues, and their supervisor.

• Eventually, team members start to think seriously about leaving the organization and they begin to search for other employment.


Communicating appreciation to employees and colleagues sounds pretty easy and straightforward. In many ways, it is. However, we also know that for the communication of appreciation to effectively encourage the other person, several factors must be considered.

First, researchers have found that attempts to communicate appreciation globally across an organization are not very effective. For recognition and appreciation to be effective, they must be individualized and delivered personally. Trying a general "just say thanks" campaign across the company will not have much impact. In fact, in our work with companies, we have found that this type of approach can actually backfire and spark a negative reaction from employees. People want appreciation to be genuine. Workers are skeptical of programs implemented from the top down where supervisors are given an instruction to "communicate appreciation for each team member at least once a week." While we all want to know that we are valued, we want it to be authentic, not contrived.

Second, appreciation needs to be viewed as valuable to the recipient in order to have an impact. This is directly related to the necessity for individualized communication. Just as individuals have a primary love language in family relationships, they also have a primary appreciation language in the work setting.

The challenge, from the supervisor's perspective, is to know what actions hit the mark and effectively communicate appreciation to a team member. This is why we developed the MBA Inventory, along with the specific "action items" for each language of appreciation. We wanted to develop a tool that provided accurate, individualized actions business owners and organizational leaders can use to show their appreciation for their team members without having to guess about what will be most significant to the employee. We agree with Buckingham and Clifton who state in their bestselling Now, Discover Your Strengths: "To excel as a manager, to turn your people's talents into productive, powerful strengths, requires an additional all-important ingredient. Lacking this ingredient ... you will never reach excellence. The all-important ingredient is individualization."

Third, another important research finding is that employees are more likely to "burn out" when they do not feel appreciated or emotionally supported by their supervisors. In today's financial climate, businesses have had to reduce the number of employees, raises and financial compensation have been slowed or halted, and the demands on employees are greater than ever. This is the perfect set of conditions for employees to become discouraged. More work, less support from others, little financial incentive, and fear about the future combine to make employees feel insecure.

We have found many organizations that are looking for ways to encourage their team members and reward them for work well done but are no longer able to use financial rewards to accomplish this purpose. This is especially true in the areas of government, schools, social service agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Directors and administrators now must find ways to encourage team members that do not require large amounts of financial resources.

Finally, there is a bit of good news for these business leaders. When leaders actively pursue communicating appreciation to their team members, the whole work culture improves. Ultimately, the managers report that they are enjoying their work more. All of us thrive in an atmosphere of appreciation.


As previously noted, each of us has a primary and secondary language of appreciation. Our primary language communicates more deeply to us than the others. Although we will accept appreciation in all five languages, we will not feel truly encouraged unless the message is communicated through our primary language. When messages are sent repeatedly in ways outside of that language, the intent of the message "misses the mark" and loses the impact the sender had hoped for.

We all tend to communicate to others in ways that are most meaningful to us—we "speak our own language." However, if the message is not the appreciation language of the employee, it may not mean to them what it would mean to you. That is why many employees are not encouraged when they receive a reward as part of the company's recognition plan—it doesn't speak in their preferred language of appreciation.

For example, Ellen consistently leads her department in sales and with the highest marks in customer service. At their department's quarterly meetings, she is regularly called forward to receive a reward. For Ellen, this is like torture. She hates to be in front of groups and she doesn't want public attention. What she would value is time with her supervisor regularly where she could share her ideas on how to improve customer service. Ellen's primary language of appreciation is Quality Time, not Words of Affirmation. Giving her public recognition is embarrassing to Ellen and a negative experience for her—clearly not affirming.

This process of miscommunication can be frustrating to both the sender and the recipient. Consider the following scenario: "What is the matter with Mike?" Claricia asked a colleague. "I tell him he is doing a good job. I even bought him tickets to a Yankees game this weekend to show him how much I appreciated the extra hours he put in to get the project done. And yet, he mopes around here and tells Jim that he doesn't feel the management team really values what he does. What does he want?"

What Mike wants is help from his teammates when a project needs to be done. He doesn't like to work by himself, although he will if necessary. He values Acts of Service and would be really encouraged if either his colleagues or his supervisor would stay late with him some evening and pitch in to help him get the project done. Telling him "Thanks" or giving him some tangible gift after the fact is okay, but it doesn't really meet his emotional need for feeling appreciated.

Consider the following example related to our physical needs. At various times throughout the day, we might feel thirsty, hungry, or physically tired. And someone who wants to help make us feel better may take it upon themselves to provide what they perceive we need. But if you are thirsty for a glass of water, and they offer you a seat to rest upon—it's nice, but it doesn't quench your thirst. Or if you are exhausted from working outside all day and a friend gives you a snack but doesn't let you sit down to rest, the food may temporarily give you a boost of energy but the action doesn't fully give you the rest you desire. Similarly, acts of encouragement or demonstrations of appreciation in ways that are not meaningful to a coworker may be appreciated as a nice gesture, but one's deeper need for appreciation remains unmet.


When we began our research, we visualized supervisors using the principles of motivating by appreciation to enhance the work relationships with those they supervise. However, as we field-tested the model across a variety of organizations (for-profit/not-for-profit, and among a variety of industries), we found an interesting response. The concept of encouraging colleagues and showing appreciation to coworkers was valued by individuals in virtually all roles and settings. Repeatedly and consistently, team members were excited about using the concepts with their peers and colleagues as much as within the context of supervisory relationships. Our conclusion is that people want to encourage and show appreciation to those with whom they work regardless of the organizational role they have.

As a result, throughout the book, you will find that we switch back and forth both in our terminology (supervisor, manager, coworker, team member, and colleague) and in the examples we use. In essence, the principles can apply regardless of the type of formal positional relationship you have with others.

This leads to the overall thesis of this book. We believe that people in the workplace (whether a paid or volunteer position) need to feel appreciation in order for them to enjoy their job, do their best work, and continue working over the long haul. Understanding how you are encouraged and how those with whom you work experience encouragement can significantly improve your relationships in the workplace, increase your job satisfaction, and create a more positive work environment. It is our intent to provide the tools, resources, and information to help you gather this knowledge and apply it in a practical, meaningful way in your work setting.

If you're not convinced that your workplace needs improved communication of appreciation, please see the resource "Picking Up Some Not-So-Subtle Cues That Your Colleagues Need to Feel Appreciated" in the Appreciation Toolkit at the back of this book or at our website (appreciationatwork.com/resources). You may also want to take the questionnaire on the site entitled, "How Dysfunctional Is Your Workplace?" This may provide a humorous but insightful perspective on your workplace environment.

Making It Personal

Reflect on the following:

1. On a scale of 0–10, how appreciated do you feel by your immediate supervisor?

2. On a scale of 0–10, how appreciated do you feel by each of your coworkers?

3. When you are feeling discouraged at work, what actions by others have encouraged you?

4. When you want to communicate appreciation to your colleagues, how do you typically do so?

5. How well do you believe you and your coworkers know how to express appreciation to one another?

6. How interested are you in finding effective ways to support and encourage those with whom you work and thus create a more positive work environment?

Chapter Two


Understanding the Return on Investment from Appreciation and Encouragement

Business leaders, whether they are owners or managers, are strongly focused on the profitability of the business and the return on investment (ROI) being produced for the owners. In fact, ROI is one of the measuring sticks by which executives and managers are monitored regarding their professional performance. While most owners want their staff to enjoy their work and have positive attitudes about the company, ultimately business leaders assess the benefits of any program or activity in terms of its impact on the financial health of the company. If an activity—like the MBA model—does not add to the health of the company and at the same time may take away focus and energy, why would a manager want to try it?

Often when we share the Motivating by Appreciation model with business executives and organizational leaders, ultimately the question "Why?" arises. "Why should we be concerned about communicating appreciation to our employees? We pay them fairly. In these economic conditions, they should be thankful they have a job. Yes, on the one hand, I want them to be happy and feel appreciated; but, on the other hand, we are running a business here. This is not about hugs and warm fuzzies—it is about providing goods and services while making a profit."

This response is neither unusual nor unreasonable for those who are responsible for the financial health of a business. The world of work is a demanding environment with harsh realities. Managers and directors have to deal with global competition, reduced budgets, increased taxes, and often an untrained workforce. No one has extra time or energy to waste on projects that do not contribute to the success of the organization. So, a reality-based question that needs to be answered is: "What benefits will I (or my organization) gain from engaging in a process of consistently communicating appreciation to my staff?"

In this chapter, we want to answer that question so that business leaders can determine whether or not the benefits outweigh the cost of time and energy to invest in the process of motivating by appreciation.


When we started this project in 2006, many reports were proclaiming the approaching problem of not being able to find quality employees. At that time, some of the chief issues facing employers were a less-than-adequately trained workforce, employees who often did not have a good work ethic, and a shrinking labor pool given the aging of the baby boomer generation.

Now, of course, employers and employees face a different world. The increasing globalization of economics and the world marketplace that Thomas Friedman first explored in his recent bestseller The World Is Flat has become a reality. In the past, businesses competed either with other local, regional, or sometimes national firms. However, now most companies (and those individuals looking for jobs) have global competition from businesses in China, India, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Brazil, and many other locales. Businesses are now forced to function in an evermore-competitive environment.


Excerpted from The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by GARY D. CHAPMAN PAUL E. WHITE Copyright © 2011 by Gary D. Chapman and Paul E. White. Excerpted by permission of NORTHFIELD PUBLISHING. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

GARY CHAPMAN--author, speaker, counselor--has a passion for people and for helping them form lasting relationships. He is the #1 bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages series and director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc. Gary travels the world presenting seminars, and his radio programs air on more than 400 stations. For more information visit his website at www.5lovelanguages.com.

Paul White, PhD, is a psychologist, author, and speaker who ¿makes work relationships work." He has consulted with a wide variety of organizations, including Microsoft, the US Air Force, the Million Dollar Round Table, and Princeton University. He and Gary Chapman coauthored The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

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5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
PaulHill More than 1 year ago
One challenge faced by leaders of non-profits and large church staffs is adequately communicating appreciation to employees, coworkers and others involved in the work of ministry. As Drs. White and Chapman acknowledge, the financial downturn has reduced the amount of financial resources available for communicating appreciation and a job well done to employees in the for-profit world as well as in the non-profit world. The fact that financial bonuses aren't adequate in every employment context, and also not available, only highlights the timeliness of "The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace." The assessment instrument that is included with the book is an excellent resource and one that enables supervisors, managers and pastors accurately express appreciation to those they work with. As the pastor of a congregation I have found the assessment along with the book extremely helpful not merely with employees but also with key volunteers. By discovering what a specific volunteer's language of appreciation is I find that I can better support and encourage them in their work. This contributes to longevity and assists them in avoiding burnout. Finally, there are two points that make this book exceptional. While Dr. White didn't include "Physical Touch" in the assessment instrument (for obvious reasons) he does discuss it giving suggestions on how this language of appreciation can be expressed without awkwardness or impropriety. Also, the "toolkit" at the end of the book is extremely helpful in the application of the principles of the book to specific work contexts.
EAPAdam More than 1 year ago
High turnover of quality employees is felt by businesses right where it hurts the most - net profit. Retaining valuable workers is essential to long term growth and success of any organization. In my opinion, the more people feel appreciated at work the less likely conflict will occur, even possibly preventing workplace lawsuits. The book The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace gives the reader practical tools for maintaining your most valuable work place asset - your employees. This book is a quick read that is well written and entertaining. I recommend this book for all leaders who want to create a first class positive work culture. I'm sorry to say that if I would have applied this material on the job years ago, much of the turmoil I have experienced at work could have been prevented.
GHott More than 1 year ago
I've thoroughly enjoyed 'The Five Languages of Love' thus far and this addition was no exception. I've worked in places where it's made me physically sick to walk through the door and I currently work in a place where they practice 'The Five Languages' teachings and have never read the books. they've taken the time to know that buying me lunch when I've a stressful workload will get me much farther and keep me pleasant much longer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At office we often don't know what to do or to tell. This book give us cues to help coworkers and boss. You can change relationship between each other and get a better place to work. Thanks to Mr Chapman.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just a sample. Too simplistic. Duh increased worker appreciation makes a business better.