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Languages of Appreciation

By Aaron Zint

Love Languages

Imagine a Brazilian man who only speaks Portuguese, is trying to say, “I love you very much!” to a Chinese woman who only speaks Mandarin. She will probably have no idea what he is talking about and may even be frightened by the demonstrative way he’s saying it, if he’s anything like the Brazilian friends that I have.

The idea of Love Languages that was introduced by Dr. Gary Chapman in the mid 90’s, is that people say, “I love you,” in different ways or “languages”. If we can learn to speak the love language of those we care about, we can effectively communicate “I love you,” in a way they can actually hear it.

People Aren’t Feeling It

This concept was adapted for the workplace in recent years in the book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. In this book, Dr. Paul White and Dr. Gary Chapman explain that most people are unhappy at their jobs because they feel a lack of appreciation. This isn’t to say the appreciation doesn’t exist. People simply aren’t feeling it.

So what if an organization really grabbed onto the idea that people felt/spoke appreciation in different ways or languages? What if everybody at that organization, from top to bottom, could learn to speak each other’s specific language of appreciation? Well, you just might have a workplace where people were really engaged, wanted to stick around and wanted to bring their best to the table.

In a Nutshell

Here are the 5 languages of appreciation in a nutshell. Read through them and figure out which one or ones, resonate with you the most. Then be on the lookout for what language your coworkers, clients and supervisors receive appreciation in:

  1. Quality Time: you feel appreciated when someone gives you focused attention and time. You like it when they ask, “How are you doing?” or they spend time doing something with you that you enjoy.
  2. Words of Affirmation: you feel appreciated when someone tells you either in written form or verbally, specifically what they appreciate about you. “I appreciate how much you care about your clients. Like when you helped Jennifer create a scrapbook. That was incredibly thoughtful.”
  3. Acts of Service: you feel appreciated when someone steps into your world to help you. A person’s appreciation is most noticeable to you when they prove it with their actions.
  4. Tangible Gifts: you feel appreciated when someone gives you a gift that means something to you. The monetary value is inconsequential. The gift just has to say, “I was thinking about you and I know you.”
  5. Physical Touch: you feel appreciated with a workplace-appropriate side hug, high five or pat on the back.


What are your languages of appreciation? Let us know in the comments!

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