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Creating a Positive Culture with the Five Languages of Appreciation

Creating a Positive Culture with the Five Languages of Appreciation

If you’re looking to create a more positive and productive work environment, learning how to use the Five Languages of Appreciation may be just what you need. According to authors Gary Chapman and Dr Tony Robbins, these are the five ways people prefer to feel appreciated: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the Five Languages of Appreciation is based on the Five Love Languages framework. When the Five Languages of Appreciation are applied in the workplace, it helps employees feel appreciated in a way that resonates with them. They’ll be more likely to value the workplace, be motivated and give their best performance.

How do you find out your staff language of appreciation?

There are plenty of free tests you can try online, or you can take a paid test created by the authors here:

So, how can you put this into practice in the workplace?


Showing appreciation to an employee who values words of affirmation goes beyond simply saying, ‘thanks for that’, or ‘good job’ , regularly. The trick to being effective with your words of affirmation is to be specific: what was it that they did exceptionally well, how did their actions benefit the patient or practice, and what was it about their actions that you valued? Specific feedback might sound like:

‘Sam, I wanted to thank you for your participation in the team meeting this week. You provided valuable insight into the challenges you experience in the sterilising room. You speaking up so confidently encouraged the other team members to speak up, too, and our conversation led to some great outcomes. That kind of participation really makes our team meetings effective and productive. I am excited to hear more of your ideas in future meetings. Keep up the excellent work.’


Checking in and scheduling regular catchups is a great way to show appreciation for your employees who value quality time. Providing employees with time to speak openly, personally, and professionally, demonstrates that you and the business value them. In these times, listen more than you talk and let them express themselves at length.


Offering help to the staff member who values acts of service is a fantastic way to show your appreciation. These acts demonstrate to the staff member that you recognise and value their work. This might be a physical act where you jump in and help alleviate pressure or say to them, ‘I know that you’ve been so busy this week; how can I help you?’.


Demonstrating that you thought of the staff member and bought something for them is enough for those who value gift giving. It might look like buying them a fresh croissant from the bakery they’ve wanted to try or buying them a mug with their favourite Harry Potter character. Perhaps it looks like gifting them an early finish when you know they’re moving next week. These gifts don’t need to be expensive; they need to demonstrate thoughtfulness.


It goes without saying that, in the workplace, showing your appreciation with physical touch must be appropriate and with consent. High fives, fist bumps, handshakes and pats on the back are all generally acceptable. If you aren’t comfortable instigating it, or you want to gauge how a staff member feels, say something like, ‘The way that you helped out Ms Jones today was awesome – it definitely deserves a high five, right!?’ and hold up your hand. As you develop your relationship with the staff member who appreciates physical touch, you’ll get a sense of what they prefer – be conscious not to overdo it.

It can be easy as a manager to show appreciation how you think it should be shown or that you are the best at giving. What’s most important about this model is that you’re aware of what your staff members as individuals value the most, and you respond accordingly.

Would you adopt this strategy in your practice?


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