December 17, 2017


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Words of Appreciation – 3 Reasons why they are not used

By Dr Paul White

It is good to be reminded of the importance of communicating appreciation to staff and team members. When employees/team members truly feel valued and appreciated, good things follow. This article will explain what the benefits are and why more people are not using words of appreciation.

language of appreciationThe power of appreciation lies in the fact that people are more likely to show up for work (and on time), follow established policies and procedures, and get more work done. Their job satisfaction ratings go up, and their employee engagement increases. Also, when staff/team members feel appreciated, customer ratings tend to rise, and the managers who are giving appreciation, report enjoying their work more.

So if all these positive results occur, why isn’t appreciation communicated more? And what should we do about it?

1.     Manager are too busy

Managers and employees report that they are too busy. Virtually everyone states they already have too much to do, and don’t have any time (or mental space) to think about another set of tasks. Busyness is, far and above all other reasons, the primary reason people cite for not communicating appreciation.

How to resolve

Don’t create another “to do” list – you don’t need more to do. Rather, make sure that the efforts and actions you take “hit the mark”. Realize that not everyone feels appreciated in the same ways; find out what is meaningful to your team members and communicate appreciation through these actions. Yes, this does take time, but it is a worthy investment.

2.     Not compatible with work

To many, showing appreciation is not compatible with the nature of work and work-relationships. Work, by definition, is focused on getting tasks done. Companies either manufacture and sell goods, or they provide services. So this is focus of every employee’s day.

How to resolve

There has to be a balance of working together with others as people (employees are not just “production units” or machines) and getting the work done. Most companies have employee recognition programs but it has become evident that they aren’t working to make employees feel valued. Team members will feel valued when appreciation is communicated regularly, personally and in a manner that is perceived as genuine and authentic.

3.     People don’t value you

Some people don’t think appreciation should be communicated, or they really don’t value those with whom they work. When leaders don’t really value recognizing or encouraging their employees (the “I show them I appreciate them by paying them” approach), there is not much to do except to let them experience the results of their choices. Typically, these leaders have the highest turnover rate and lowest job satisfaction ratings by their staff.

How to resolve

There are times when some colleagues are difficult to work with, or people just don’t get along very well. And it best not to try to “fake” communicating appreciation when it isn’t really there.

Most often, actually, it is not that appreciation isn’t communicated but that it isn’t communicated in the ways important to the recipient – which is practically the same as not being communicated at all.

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About the author:  Paul White, Ph.D., is co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace and creator of the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory, which identifies individuals’ preferred ways of being shown appreciation. To learn more, visit


To know more about the 5 Languages of appreciation, read the previous article: Project Management Skills: Languages of Appreciation

5 Keys to Effectively Communicating Appreciation

By Paul White, Ph.D.

“People are burned out. We have to do more work with less people, and for no more money.” All around the world, in companies, schools, non-profit organizations, and government agencies, the same message is communicated over and over – both from leaders and from employees:  “Workers are becoming more negative, cynical and discouraged. We need to do something to show them appreciation but funds are tight.”

Language of appreciationThe workplace environment can change for the better. Unfortunately, many recognition efforts by managers are misguided and wind up being a waste of time and effort. Why? Because they are not built upon the core principles needed for appreciation to be communicated effectively.



Core Principles for Effectively Communicated Appreciation

#1 Make sure your praise is specific and personal

The most common mistake organizations and supervisors make is that their communication is general and impersonal. They send blast emails: “Good job. Way to go team.” But they have no specific meaning to the individual who stayed late to get the project completed. Use your colleague’s name and tell specifically what they do that makes your job easier.

#2 Realize that actions can be more impactful than words for many people

Some employees do not value verbal praise (the “words are cheap” mentality). For many people, they have grown to not believe compliments from others, expecting them primarily to be an act of manipulation. Other actions can be more impactful for these individuals, like spending time with them or helping them get a task done.

#3 Use the language of appreciation valued by the recipient

Not everyone likes public recognition or social events. One leader stated, “You can give me an award but you’ll have to shoot me first before I’ll go up and get it in front of a crowd.” And for many introverts, going to a “staff appreciation dinner” is more like torture than a reward for doing a good job. They may prefer getting a gift card for a bookstore and staying at home and reading. Find out what they value and communicate in that language.

#4 Separate affirmation from constructive criticism or instruction

If you want the positive message to be heard “loud and clear”, don’t follow your affirmation with a “Now, if you would only…” message. Don’t give them a compliment and then tell them how they could do the task better. They will only remember the “constructive” criticism, and may not even hear the positive.

#5 Absolutely be genuine

Don’t try to fake it, or overstate your appreciation (“You are the best administrative assistant in the free world!”). People want appreciation to be genuine, not contrived.

Negative and cynical workplace environments can be improved. Good things happen when individuals feel truly valued and appreciated for their contributions: employee relationships are less tense, communication becomes more positive, policies and procedures are followed more, staff turnover decreases, and managers report enjoying their work more.

Clearly, when managers and colleagues begin to communicate authentic appreciation in the ways that are important to the recipients, positive results are not far away.

About the Author:  Paul White, Ph.D., is a psychologist, author, speaker and consultant who makes work relationships work. He is co-author of Rising Above a Toxic Workplace and The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. For more information, go to

To know more about the 5 Languages of appreciation, read the previous article: Project Management Skills: Languages of Appreciation

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