Five Keys to Successful Communication by Dr. Paul White

The following is a guest post from our partner - Appreciation at Work, written by Dr. Paul White, author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. Dr. White recently spoke about how to improve staff morale using the five languages of appreciation. Click here to view his On-Demand Webcast.


Hi! This is Dr. Paul White, psychologist and co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.  I’m pleased to have the opportunity to share with you who are served by C.A. Short Company and the various ways they support your organizations.  I’m excited to partner with them in bringing additional ways to “make work relationships work.”

Five Keys to Communication

As I travel around the country and work with businesses and organizations, I am hearing the same message over and over, both from leaders and from employees: “People are getting burned out. We have to do more work with less people, and for no more money...Workers are becoming more negative, cynical and discouraged. We need to do something to show them appreciation, but funds are tight.”

Research confirms that there are serious problems developing in the workplace today

  • Only 8% of employees feel their top management cares about them personally
  • 65% of workers say they have received no recognition or appreciation in the past 12 months
  • While 80% of large corporations have employee recognition programs, only 31% of their employees say they feel valued for doing good quality work
  • 51% of supervisors think they are doing an adequate job of showing recognition for work well done, but only 17% of the employees who work for them agree
  • 70% of employees are either disengaged or under engaged in their work
  • Yet, only 21% of these workers are looking for work elsewhere, meaning approximately 50% of the workforce are just passively enduring work they don’t enjoy

Fortunately, the workplace environment can change for the better. A key factor is that employees want to be valued for the work they do and for who they are as individuals. Individuals desire appreciation from their supervisor, but colleagues showing authentic appreciation to one another can also be a powerful part of a recognition program. (This is in contrast to a “go through the motions,” generic impersonal approach.)

Core Principles For Effectively Communicated Appreciation

The following are five core principles we know are needed for appreciation to be communicated effectively.

Make sure your praise is specific and personal. The most common mistake supervisors make is that their communication is general and impersonal. They send blast emails: “Good job. Way to go team.” But they have no specific meaning to the individual who stayed late to get the project completed. Use your colleague’s name and tell specifically what they do that makes your job easier.

Realize that other types of actions can be more impactful than words for many people. Some people do not value verbal praise (the “words are cheap” mentality). For many people, they have grown to not believe compliments from others, expecting them primarily to be an act of manipulation. Other actions can be more impactful for these individuals, like spending time with them or helping them get a task done.

Use the language of appreciation valued by the recipient. Not everyone likes public recognition or social events. One leader told me, “You can give me an award but you’ll have to shoot me first before I’ll go up and get it in front of a crowd.” And for many introverts, going to a “staff appreciation dinner” is more like torture than a reward for doing a good job. They may prefer getting a gift card for a bookstore and staying at home and reading. Find out what they value and communicate in that language.

Separate affirmation from constructive criticism or instruction. If you want the positive message to be heard “loud and clear,” don’t follow your affirmation with a “Now, if you would only…” message. Don’t give them a compliment and then tell them how they could do the task better. They will only remember the “constructive” criticism, and may not even hear the positive.

Absolutely be genuine. Don’t try to fake it or overstate your appreciation (“You are the best administrative assistant in the free world!”). People want appreciation to be genuine, not contrived.

We have successfully improved workplace environments and taught teams how to communicate authentic appreciation in manufacturing firms, medical facilities, government agencies, financial services firm – from small companies to large multi-national corporations. Give it a go – the results are worth it!


Register Now for the webcast with Dr. Paul White, The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace


C.A. Short Company partners with companies to manage, drive and facilitate increased employee engagement to increase financial performance, productivity, quality, and core performance outcomes. Our process and research-based platform enables executives and managers to engage their teams to increase the bottom line, motivate staff, and incentivize positive behavior. To Request a Complimentary Consultation, click here.



Topics: Employee Recognition, Total Recognition, Employee Engagement, Communication

Paul White, Ph.D.

About the Author
Paul White, Ph.D.

Dr. Paul White is a psychologist, author, speaker, and consultant who makes work relationships work. He has written articles for and been interviewed by Bloomberg’s Business Week, CNN/,, Fast Company,, Huffington Post LIVE, U.S. News and World Report, and Yahoo! Finance.

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