Workplace Appreciation: Speak Your Colleague's Language

Updated: Mar 9

March 6 is national employee appreciation day. Appreciation and recognition strengthens an individual's workplace belonging and connections while uniting a team.


Appreciation does not come in a one-size-fits-all approach. Author Gary Chapman and Paul White wrote The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People. Chapman and White explain how different personalities want to appreciate each other and be appreciated in different ways.


Here are the 5 languages of appreciation.


  1. Words of Affirmation - People want to hear the kudos that includes the who, what, when, where and how. Write a note. Say "I appreciate you because..." Make a poster. Rent a billboard. Call a team meeting to give a shout-out.

  2. Acts of Service - People want to see your actions. Lend a helping hand. Solve a problem. Be a resource. Take out the trash. Bring their favorite coffee. Go pick up lunch.

  3. Receiving Gifts - People want to have a material item. Give company SWAG. Bring flowers. Purchase a gift card. Provide an hour or two of paid time off.

  4. Quality Time - People want dedicated face-to-face time. Have a one-on-one meeting. Grab lunch. Volunteer together. Play a game. Go to the movie.

  5. Physical Touch - People want a physical touch while honoring personal boundaries. Give high-fives, lots of them. Create a unique fist-bump only for the two of you. Pat on the back.

Now that you understand the 5 languages, do you know the appreciation of your colleagues? If so, get busy. If not, take a moment to answer these questions.


  1. How does your colleague express their appreciation? Usually, we give appreciation in the way that we want to receive it.

  2. Have they told you stories about what acts of appreciation meant the most to them at work or in their personal life? We share moments that are meaningful with others. Use this information as clues.

  3. Is there another colleague who you can ask or ask the colleague himself? We must be a seeker of information to build a strong connection.


A best guess may result in lots of energy spent with little return on investment. Take time to be intentional with giving appreciation on March 6. Better yet, show appreciation everyday!



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