[Ep#296] The Common Misunderstandings Leaders Have About Appreciation with Dr Paul White

The Common Misunderstandings Leaders Have About Appreciation with Dr Paul White

When you’re at the top, it’s easy to forget that employees are people with different personalities. A leader can get so caught up with work that they fail to understand the difference between showing sincere appreciation  and recognition. Far from the usual awards or compensations, employees have different ways of feeling valued. These are crucial in creating healthy and meaningful work relationships.

In this episode, Dr Paul White joins to talk about the five languages of appreciation. Dr Paul shares strategies on how to begin communicating them through ways team members truly want. He also clarifies the common misunderstandings leaders have about appreciation and discusses the difference between recognition and appreciation. Dr Paul then talks about what remote employees need and the practical steps to support them.

If you want to know how you can show appreciation at work, this episode is for you.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Discover the five languages of appreciation at work.
  2. Learn the difference between employee recognition and getting appreciated in the workplace.
  3. Find out the importance of identifying the secondary appreciation language and the least valued language.


LISTEN NOW: (and check out the Resources and Episode Highlights below): 

WATCH NOW (and check out the Resources and Episode Highlights below): 


Episode Highlights

[01:59] The Meaning of Appreciation

  • Appreciation means different things in different settings.
  • In the work setting, it's about communicating how you value the people that you work with.
  • Some automatically interpret the word as employee recognition and going in front of a large group.
  • There is a difference between employee recognition and authentic appreciation.

[03:37] The 5 Love Languages and The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

  • The 5 Love Languages by Dr Chapman has sold 18 million copies and is in 50 languages.
  • While previously working in consulting, Dr Paul encountered a case when a father and son were not connecting.
  • Dr Paul pursued Dr Chapman for over a year and pitched his idea.
  • He started doing research and developed an online assessment, which 275,000 people had already taken.
  • Dr Paul White and Dr Gary Chapman co-wrote the book The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, which sold 500,000 copies.

[05:19] Appreciation Language Assessment

  • Taking the assessment identifies your primary and secondary way of being shown appreciation. You can also determine what method of appreciation doesn't apply to you.
  • A group chart is then developed to learn about that and the specific actions within the language.
  • It’s helpful to find out your own appreciation language.
  • But it’s more helpful to know how somebody else wants to be shown appreciation.

[06:22] Misunderstandings Around Recognition and Appreciation

  • Recognition is about performance. We recognise and reward people who meet their goals.
  • Appreciation is about the person, not just about the performance. As people, we have lives and personality not directly related to performance.
  • Even high performers resent getting recognised for performance all the time. We all have an innate sense of having value.
  • Another misconception is that appreciation is all the leader’s responsibility. People want to be valued and appreciated by their peers as well.

[08:41] The Differences after Taking the Assessment

  • The goal isn’t for people to be happy (although it’s nice if that happens); it’s to help make the organisation function better.
  • Benefits include lower staff turnover, greater profitability and productivity, increased customer satisfaction, and less conflict.
  • A mining company has incorporated the appreciation language into their work and onboarding process.
  • The company reported improved morale and the positive nature of their work setting.

[11:03] The 5 Appreciation Languages

  • They're the same in name as the five love languages but differ in application. These languages are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, tangible gifts, and physical touch.
  • Around 46% of employees think about words first by showing gratitude or giving compliments.
  • 26% of employees lean on quality time. This is exhibited either through individual time with supervisors or hanging out with colleagues.
  • Acts of service account for 22% of employees. It's about identifying what you can do to help make your colleague's day or week better.
  • 6% of the workforce says tangible gifts are their primary way of being shown appreciation. These are small things and often on a personal level.

[13:49] The Language of Physical Touch

  • These are spontaneous celebrations like high-fives, fist bumps, congratulatory handshake, etc.
  • Only 1% of employees have this language.
  • We don't want to advocate a touchless society. Appropriate touches can be very meaningful.
  • Since it happens in the workplace, team members can identify whether they like it or not.

[15:23] What Remote Employees Need Now

  • Dr Paul's team researched the differences between remote and on-site employees and pre-COVID and during COVID.
  • The result is that regardless of setting, people's languages stay the same. The difference lies in how to communicate and act on them.
  • The Motivating by Appreciation (MBA) Inventory aims to address appreciation languages in remote work.
  • We have to be proactive and initiate connections in the remote setting. It’s a key that people are missing in remote work relationships.
  • Setting up non-work related virtual events and personal interactions can help remote teams stay connected.

[20:24] Empowering Teams to Connect

  • You can visit Appreciation at Work’s website for their training resources. Also, read The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.
  • Taking the assessment is vital to find out what's individually important to each person.
  • The way to start empowering teams is to start with yourself.
  • It's about being authentic and individual rather than everybody doing the same thing.
  • Introduce it to one or two people and grow it virtually and virally.

[23:53] The Secondary Language and the Least Valued Language

  • The secondary languages help emphasise the primary language.
  • It’s also helpful to identify your least-valued language to know what’s not important to you.
  • In doing so, you identify blind spots.
  • This realisation is especially important for leaders when it comes to communicating with their team members.
  • As a leader, you need to know how to lead different types of people.

[25:43] The Appreciation Language of a Team

  • While having an appreciation language in a team does occur, it's pretty random.
  • The culture of an organisation can create a bias towards a particular language.
  • There is a relative rating between the languages.

10 Powerful Quotes from the Episode

[02:53] ‘We try to help differentiate between employee recognition and what we would call authentic appreciation because we're not just about helping people sort of go through the motions, but really to be able to communicate in a genuine way.’

[05:21] ‘We encourage teams to take the assessment so that they each identify their primary way of being shown appreciation, their secondary one, because that can be helpful, the one that doesn't matter to them, because that's sort of your blind spot.’

[05:51] ‘What really is practically helpful is to find out how somebody else wants to be showing appreciation. Because we don't want people to waste their time and energy doing things that they think is helpful and it doesn't really hit the mark. And it just sort of falls by the wayside.’

[06:38] ‘Appreciation, we really feel, is about the person, that it's not just about performance. Because, you know, we are, our employees are people, and we have lives, and we have personality. And not all of that is directly related to performance.’

[08:56] ‘Use appreciation to help make the organisation function better. It's sort of like oil in a machine that helps things move, less friction, less sparking conflict.’

[11:23] ‘Different people have different ways that they value on being shown appreciation.’

[15:39] ‘Regardless of your setting, and pre- or during COVID, people's languages pretty much stay the same.’

[17:01] ‘And so people really want to connect at a personal level, about what's going on in their life and what's going on in your life. And we have to sort of either be proactive and initiate that.’

[24:32] ‘Especially for leaders, it helps us identify sort of our blind spot. Because you're going to have team members that have that language and you have to learn how to communicate in that way.’

[24:45] ‘If you're going to truly learn how to lead people, you have to learn how to lead people who are different than you are. Otherwise you have a bunch of little mini you’s following you around.’

About Dr Paul White

Dr Paul White is a psychologist by profession. He is also a bestselling author, international keynote speaker, leadership, and research. Dr Paul’s focus is on helping make work relationships work. He teaches leaders and employees to communicate authentic appreciation and survive toxic workplaces.

He is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. Using these principles, Appreciation at Work™ offers training and resources. They aim to help motivate employees in the workplace.

If you wish to connect with Dr Paul, you may reach out to him on Twitter and Facebook. Send him an email at yesdrpaul@gmail.com for a sample report and other information on their training resources. 

You may also visit his website and the Appreciation at Work™ website.

Enjoy This Podcast?

Showing appreciation to your team members and colleagues helps your organisation function better. Before doing so, you need to identify the appreciation language that will work with a particular person. Dr Paul explains that this helps you communicate better and have a more cohesive working environment. 

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