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  • Writer's pictureBahar Önderol

How To Show Appreciation In The Workplace?

I was one of those people who had a hard time accepting appreciation because it would feel like boasting. I observe the same attitude, especially in the people of my generation. Unfortunately, most of those who have difficulties in receiving appreciation also have difficulties in showing their appreciation.

So, what is the importance of showing appreciation at work?

Studies show that employees who are appreciated by their managers feel valued and their engagement increases. Appreciation can be given for the action of the person, such as doing the job "quickly", "carefully", or it can be given for personality, such as being "smart", "brave", "hardworking". It is known that the positive effect of appreciation for personality is much higher than appreciation for action.

We tell managers in leadership training to be generous in showing their appreciation, and we add how it is important to be “authentic and sincere” while doing this. One of the managers I coached perceived his manager's appreciation as “a pat on the back” to push him to work harder (like you did this and you can also do that) and he didn’t believe what he said. As we can see from this example, if the sole purpose of appreciation is to increase motivation and productivity, it loses its authenticity and sincerity and does not create the expected positive effect.

I think the purpose of the appreciation should be a "celebration". One's contribution to the work should be celebrated and appreciated by emphasizing one's strengths such as perseverance, hard work, and perspective. Especially for those who are a novice at the task, receiving appreciation for such comments and evaluations increases their self-confidence. However, how can we prevent our appreciation from becoming worthless in the eyes of the other person by falling into repetition and/or losing authenticity and sincerity?

I have two suggestions for this:

1- Celebrate the aspects that the person is developing (such as "taking risks", and "being patient") while doing the job, and also appreciating the new skills he has gained. It is valuable in terms of realizing that this person is making an effort to develop by revealing his potential.

2- Appreciate without adding our own comments and judgments. Expressions that contain judgment, albeit positive, inevitably put the speaker in the judge's seat and distance himself from the person in front of him.

Appreciation without adding our own interpretation doesn't sound like much appreciation, does it?

In the method suggested by Dr. Rosenberg in his book (Non-Violent Communication) for appreciation without judgment, the expression of appreciation includes behaviours in which the person has contributed to the well-being of others, and our particular needs that are thus met, and the pleasant feelings that come with having those needs met. For instance, it can be said “Thank you for helping to resolve the conflict between Aysun and Arda. In this way, the positive energy and harmony within the project team increased, the stress on me was reduced and I felt very relaxed.”

I'm curious about your views on giving such appreciation for expressing our feelings at work. In workplaces, I have not come across expressions of appreciation in which emotions are expressed like this. We keep emphasizing the importance of emotional intelligence, but we still find it unprofessional to talk about our emotions at work.

In particular, I think the method of non-judgmental appreciation is more successful for employees who have a “high competence with high commitment maturity level” for the job (you may remember from situational leadership) or the people who have a hard time accepting appreciation.

What are you thinking? Which appreciation method do you think is more effective?


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