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

by Gary Chapman, Paul White
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

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, 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 contains an access code for the reader to take a comprehensive online MBA Inventory (Motivating By Appreciation) - a $20 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. It identifies individuals' preference in the languages of appreciation. Understanding an individual's primary and secondary languages of appreciation can assist managers and supervisors in communicating effectively to their team members.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802461766
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Publication date: 09/01/2012
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 656,961
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

GARY CHAPMAN, PhD, is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The 5 Love Languages. With over 30 years of counseling experience, he has the uncanny ability to hold a mirror up to human behavior, showing readers not just where they go wrong, but also how to grow and move forward. Dr. Chapman holds BA and MA degrees in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University, respectively, MRE and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has completed postgraduate work at the University of North Carolina and Duke University. For more information visit his website at

DR. PAUL WHITE, PhD, is a licensed psychologist who has worked with individuals, businesses and families in a variety of settings for over 20 years. He received his B.A. from Wheaton, his Masters from Arizona State, and his PhD in Counseling Psychology from Georgia State University. He consults with successful businesses and high net worth families, dealing with the relational issues intertwined with business and financial wealth. In addition to serving businesses, families and organizations across the U.S., Dr. White has also spoken and consulted in Europe, Central Asia, the Caribbean, and South America. For more information, please visit his website at

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 ( 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.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Section 1: Foundations
Chapter 1: Motivating by Appreciation: The Concept
Chapter 2: For Business Leaders: Understanding the Return on Investment from Appreciation and Encouragement

Section 2: The 5 Languages of Appreciation
Chapter 3: Appreciation Language #1: Words of Appreciation
Chapter 4: Appreciation Language #2: Quality Time
Chapter 5: Appreciation Language #3: Acts of Service
Chapter 6: Appreciation Language #4: Tangible Gifts
Chapter 7: Appreciation Language #5: Physical Touch

Section 3: Applying the Concepts to Daily Life
Chapter 8: Discover Your Primary Appreciation Language: The MBA Inventory
Chapter 9: Your Least Valued Language of Appreciation: Your Potential Blind Spot
Chapter 10: The Difference between Recognition and Appreciation
Chapter 11: Motivating by Appreciation in Various Industry Sectors
Chapter 12: The Unique Characteristics of Volunteer Settings

Section 4: Overcoming Common Obstacles
Chapter 13: Does a Person's Language of Appreciation Change over Time? 
Chapter 14: Motivating byt Appreciation: Overcoming Your Challenges 
Chapter 15: Authentic Appreciation: What to do When You Don't Appreciate Your Team Members

Conclusion: Now It's Your Turn

Appreciation Toolkit: Resources to Use and Share with Others

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher


After twenty years of coaching leaders at all levels, and educating thousands of professional coaches around the world, I believe there are two universal things that ignite excellence within people: recognition of their uniqueness and acknowledgement that they matter. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace gives individuals, teams, and entire organizations an invaluable resource to do just that by making appreciation a foundational part of their culture.
Master Certified Coach; CEO, The Integreship Group; Past National President, the International Coaching Federation

Good leaders are known for their technical skills. Great leaders are known and remembered for how they make people feel. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace is a must-have resource for any leader who wants to move the bar from being a good leader to a great leader.
Founding Partner, The Integreship Group; Former Chief Information Officer, HJ Heinz

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace has helped change the way managers around the world think about appreciation in the workplace. New research on the positive benefits to organizations when employees feel valued and appreciated for their contributions, generational differences, the special needs of remote employees, and peer-to-peer appreciation, are welcomed additions to a book that has already become a management classic. This book will be equally valuable to those who are at the start of their burgeoning management careers as it will be to seasoned managers by providing practical tips on how to engage the increasingly diverse workforce with relevant and relatable solutions.
President & CEO, Rideau, Inc.; Director, Advisory Board, Wharton Center for Human Resources, University of Pennsylvania

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace has been a pivotal resource helping our employees and culture grow and mature. It is amazing to see how trust grows when care and appreciation are shown, as the correct language of appreciation for each employee is utilized. The insights found in this book are applicable to all generations and skill sets: introverts to extroverts, technical to relational abilities—all have been able to apply these principles for meaningful growth.
Chief Experience Officer, Meritrust Credit Union

There is a continual cry for authenticity in our workplaces and communities. This updated version of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace brings a deeper understanding of HOW to be authentic in expressing individual value in a variety of circumstances. The business case for adopting The 5 Languages of Appreciation is stronger than ever, and this new edition provides the research foundation for the return on investment to organizations when they commit to building a strong, positive workplace culture, one coworker at a time!
Owner and Principal Consultant, The Agne Group; Director of Sales Effectiveness, The Brooks Group; Associate Pastor, Open Bible Christian Church, Dayton, Ohio

I greatly appreciate this second edition of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. White and Chapman have done an exceptional job of mixing statistics with stories and infusing research into relevancy. They give readers a nuanced approach to appreciating others at work that will enhance leaders’ and colleagues’ appreciation-literacy skills in being able to draw out the best in others at work (and home).
Founder, The Global Employee Experience & Engagement Network; Coauthor, People Artists: Drawing Out the Best in Others at Work

Drs. Chapman and White’s perspective about the reality of managers’ lives is spot on. Managers don’t have capacity to give as much appreciation as the human spirit of their direct reports craves, in most cases. "It takes a village to raise a child" applies just as much to nurturing the fundamental needs of all human beings to be understood, valued, and appreciated. We all live, to some degree, in a "village" community and the principles in The 5 Languages ofAppreciation in the Workplace make it much easier to do what most people intuitively want to give and receive.
Materials Lab Manager-Metallography, Honeywell, Inc.

Appreciation isn’t just a manager issue; it is a coworker issue. It is an employee appreciating their leader issue, and a vendor to employee issue—the list goes on and on. In The 5 Languagesof Appreciation in the Workplace, Drs. Chapman and White give us the vision to create a culture with everyone valuing and appreciating one another no matter the role they have in the organization.
Learning & Development Consultant, BJC Institute for Learning and Development

As a longtime user of the 5 Languages approach, I was excited to see the new material that has been added to highlight the proven financial benefits of appreciation, working with remote and virtual teams, appreciation across generations, and making a strong case for the overall increase in employee engagement. We continue to offer training on The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace as a valuable tool to our member companies. We have found that when team members learn what others actually value in regards to showing appreciation to each other, areas like team morale, cohesiveness, unity, and especially productivity increase, and drama decreases.
Director, On Site Learning and Consulting, The Employers’ Association

Understanding The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace has been critical to our success in building a strong team and maintaining a positive culture. I aspire daily to demonstrate authentic appreciation toward my team members, peers, and leadership team. The focus on appreciation has increased employee engagement and strengthened our team dynamic.
Director of Sales, Holland America Line

Working with Dr. White brought to light the importance of building a sustainable appreciation culture. Through his workshops and personalized recognition tools, we are starting to see improved team dynamics and our appreciation communication shifting in the direction of tomorrow. While it didn’t come naturally at first, we are learning to recognize each other’s language of appreciation and it is making a big difference.
Research & Innovation, L’Oreal USA

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