I Suck at Giving Compliments

by Rebecca on November 18, 2013

I don’t know why but this is something I have never been great at doing while at work.  If you catch me at home or at Cross-fit™ then compliments and support roll of my tongue, but at work-not so much.

I think part of the issue is that when I was going through veterinary school as well as my internship and residency, any type of praise was rarely given.  In fact, my motto was “ Well, I better pat myself on the back because no one else will”.  I am sure that you have had a similar experience.

five languages of appreciationOur team is reading The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White, and it has been a bit of a slap in the face to me.  The Five Languages of Appreciations in the Workplace breaks down the different types of appreciation that can and SHOULD be demonstrated in the workplace.

 Words of Affirmation

 Tangible Gifts

 Quality Time

 Acts of Service

 Physical Touch

There is a catch though-in order for it to have a POSITIVE impact, you must communicate to your team members in the way they hear it best.  What I mean by that is someone who needs words of affirmation probably won’t be too excited about getting tickets to this weekend’s hockey game.

Chapman and White say, “Research indicates that communicating appreciation to employees decreases the chances of their leaving, increases customer satisfaction and sometimes improves productivity.”  Do these sound like things you would like to improve in your hospital?

What I love about this book is that who ever buys it can then take a free online assessment that will detail their top 2 appreciations at work.  This is a fantastic book to work through with your leadership team and then for them to then work on with their direct reports.

Reading this book has made me realize that I MUST change my mind-set and understand that my team wants and needs appreciation from me.  This goes for you too!

 Does it come naturally or is it a challenge for you to make your team feel appreciated?

 Leave a comment and you will be entered to win a FREE copy of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Nyssa Johnson November 18, 2013 at 7:44 am

I hate to admit it, but I’m one of those people that crave recognition and appreciation. I don’t work harder than any of the other hardworking team members I’m blessed to work with every day, and yet I find myself craving some kind of acknowledgement from them. While my desperation for praise may stem from other issues, I still see the benefit of praise in the workplace. Just a quick word of praise can boost the mood of just about anyone. When I’m acknowledged or thanked for the work I do, I get an immediately smile on my face that transforms my attitude and positively affects how I interact with clients and the rest of my teammates. A little praise definitely goes a long way, at least for me. I know not everyone is wired the same way I am, but hey–a quick word of positivity can only help, not hurt. And it may just be the boost your teammate needs to make a tough day bearable!


Vet Changes World November 18, 2013 at 8:46 am

I make an effort every day to show my appreciation to people I work with, especially because they work so hard. It is a challenge to find the right way to show someone appreciation since people do have different preferences. We’ve actually talked about the 5 love languages at work in the context of our relationships with our families and partners so I would be interested to see how that translates to the workplace. Obviously some may be more difficult than others – physical touch could be tricky territory. Sounds like a great read!


Hilarie Jerauld November 18, 2013 at 9:25 am

It is difficult to tailor your praise to the person receiving it, especially if it’s not how you would like to be recognized. I was speaking with another small business owner recently who implemented this book’s recommendations in his workplace. Each person would draw a name of a team member from a hat, and under the name it stated how that team member likes to be appreciated – like a secret santa. All week, everyone made it a priority to appreciate that person. The business owner I spoke with was at a loss, he was frustrated because it was so easy for everyone whose “love language” was gift related. Then all you do is buy them something. I disagree. It’s not just a gift, but something meaningful that shows you thought about the other person and what they want or need. The person he drew feels appreciated when others perform “acts of service”. He couldn’t come up with anything and it was almost the end of the week. I told him – get someone to come out here and detail her car in the parking lot! Buy her lunch and have it delivered! Take over a task that she normally does that isn’t the most glamorous – just to show her you appreciate her.
It can be tough to put yourself in another’s shoes and be empathetic to the way their mind works. The more we know about each other, though, the better we work together!


Nyssa Johnson November 27, 2013 at 7:19 pm

The “secret santa” appreciation technique is a cool idea!!!


Rebecca November 18, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Great comments guys!

Nyssa- yes you are right a little positivity can go along way

Vet change the world-funny you say that about physical touch because when you do the online assessment that is not included- ha!


Rebecca November 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Hilarie- that is cool you know someone who is already trying it. The five love languages was so helpful to me and Jeff years ago that I said then I wish they had one for the workplace and lo and behold now they do.

You are absolutely right- it can be tough to put yourself in someone else’s shoes but no doubt it makes for a lot better workplace!

Thanks for commenting!


Robyn November 18, 2013 at 6:50 pm

I think I am pretty good at giving praise–although now I will see if I can figure out how each coworker appreciates it most. I suck at GETTING compliments–inwardly I get this mix of contentment that someone noticed a good job coupled with embarrassment because I always think I could have done it better.


Rebecca November 19, 2013 at 6:19 am

See below- messed up how I responded!


Shana November 18, 2013 at 7:54 pm

This title and concept definitely reminded me of the 5 Love Languages book, and how eye-opening it was for me to show my husband love in the way he most seeks it, not just how I find most valuable. Of course, makes sense for workplace as well. Do those that have read this book feel it can be applied even if you’re not the top supervisor? With a staff of my size, if I gave a small token of appreciation to one staff member, the rest are more likely to gripe for not getting it…


Rebecca November 19, 2013 at 6:18 am

Yes it is all based on the love Lang. Book and I always thought Jeff was the same as me- acts of service but turns out he is words of affirmation-which is a ton harder for me

Thanks for commenting!


Rebecca November 19, 2013 at 6:17 am

Robyn- would not have guessed that about you! I think embracing the good of what people say is def. important and I think some of that deflection thing we all do is because we are women. I have gotten better at embracing those but written words speak more to me than spoken words for sure

Thanks for commenting!


Emily November 19, 2013 at 11:06 am

I struggle with giving compliments at work because I don’t require it from my co-workers so I forget other’s do. To me, the compliments that matter most come from the clients – online reviews, emails, and verbal praise from them I treasure because that means we’re ALL doing outstanding work and we’re fulfilling our purpose and created the culture we’ve strived for. Whereas, recognition from within the team means much less to me as it’s spotlighting just a moment in time from one individual. But I know others on our team needs that spotlight and that appreciation of the small moments – they appreciate the trees within the forest as much as the forest itself whereas I only focus on the forest as a whole. So I consciously try to take note when someone goes above and beyond and thank them for it. After all, it costs me nothing and yet can be invaluable to the other person.


Rebecca November 19, 2013 at 5:43 pm

That is great Emily and I am wired very much the same way! Thanks for commenting!


Nicole November 21, 2013 at 11:33 am

We have a box where staff can put notes about good work other members have done. It’s funny how it always seems to be the same people who put notes in, and some do not. As a manager, I try to put notes in there frequently as well as tell people when they do something well – including the doctors. But I tend to get frustrated that I make all this effort, but seldom do I get anything back in return! I think the support staff frequently forget that supervisors benefit from positive feedback too – especially since we’re typically only hearing about problems, problems, problems!


Rebecca November 21, 2013 at 5:32 pm

You are so right and I agree that many times the practice managers in particular hear all the bad and not so much of the good! I will try to address this as well in our facebook group!


Nicole November 21, 2013 at 11:35 am

Also, I would love to know how to handle the person who gets a review that is 99% positive, but yet all they dwell upon is the 1% that needs improvement, and think they got a “bad review”.


Rebecca November 21, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Nicole that is a great question- I am going to post it later tonight on our private facebook page- if you are not a member yet let me know and we will ge thou set up!


Marie November 24, 2013 at 8:22 pm

I read the original book, Five Love Languages, years ago and even bought copies and shared it with members of some of my staff a few years ago. My husband and I read the book many years ago, during a marriage series at our church. It really opened my eyes to how to “love” him and how to let him “love” me. I have also used it with my three children. What amazed me was what I perceived as an act of love was not even on my husbands or kids radar and vise versa. I look forward to reading the Love Language for the workplace as mentioned in previous posts there are differences between workplace relationships and personal relationships. I think knowing the correct language of my staff will help me inspire them. Knowing mine, may help them understand my reaction to their efforts.


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