Remember that time you saved the day and you got nothing in return? What about that time you got a gift that made no sense and ended up in the trash as soon as you got home? Or the time someone said “Hey…good job,” and you weren’t sure what you did that they thought was so good?

Authors Gary Chapman and Paul White decided to help for these scenarios and create a common language when discussing and showing appreciation in the workplace. In “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace“, they explain each of the five languages and how they cross over each other and are best utilized.

Words of Affirmation – Most common of the five languages, words of affirmation can be tricky. The people who value words of affirmation aren’t simply looking for public recognition and everyone to tell them, “good job.” It’s more than that. Whether verbal or written words, they are looking for specific evidence and genuinely care to hear what people think.

Acts of Service – With the don’t tell me, show me attitude, people who prefer to receive acts of service are looking for someone to help them by doing and acknowledging that they are there to help. However, before doing something for someone, it is important to be sure they want your help and approach the work the same way they would. Don’t make them clean up your mess or sacrifice your own work to help them.

Gifts – Rarest among the five languages, gifts can either be one of the best things or one of the worst. It is important when giving gifts to make it personal and show that you know something about them. A common mistake our team sees a lot of companies make is the giving of the ‘company wide’ treats and swag too often. From time to time it is great to show appreciation by giving a gift to all employees, but after a while or depending on the gift, it may have the opposite effect. No one wants to be a walking billboard unless they decide they want to be.

Quality Time – It’s not about spending hours and hours together. People who value quality time are looking for someone to give them the time of day. When a co-worker best feels appreciation through quality time, it is because a supervisor or peer listened, maintained eye contact and didn’t check their phone. Warning and we are sorry to say it, but please note that not everyone may want to spend time with you. Also note that some people unexpectedly may, though, so don’t ignore them.

Physical Touch – When Gary Chapman and Paul White first began putting the book together, they almost didn’t include physical touch. However, after research and discussion with employees in companies, they learned this love language had value. Touch correlates to human connection. However, don’t do it awkwardly or make other people uncomfortable. There is a time and place.

While reading these, some of us may have said ‘gross’ when reading about physical touch and other’s may have thought about that gift that sits on ours desks as a memory. Everyone has that co-worker who loves thank you cards because someone took the intentional time to write something nice. We like gifts from specific people, prefer to get lunch with our work buddy, and want hear words of affirmation from our bosses.

All of us know how we want to receive recognition. We know what makes us feel proud and valued. We know what we want from people. Now, when was the last time you made a team member feel appreciated at work and how did you make them feel valued?