Book Summary – The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People

Readingraphics February 5, 2017

Many people are feeling strained and under-valued at work. Appreciation can create a better workplace for employees, and help companies to improve motivation and retention, without a huge cash outlay. Dr. Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, had positively impacted millions worldwide with their love relationships and marriages. This book, co-authored with Dr White, addresses how to effectively communicate appreciation at work, using the 5 languages that are important to people

In this summary, we’ll give an overview of the key concepts and the 5 languages of appreciation.  Do get a copy of the book, or our complete book summary bundle, for the full mojo.

Business competition has become increasingly global and intense. Retaining quality employees has become a crucial element of business success, and even survival. Studies in the United States found that only 12% of employees leave for more money; 88% leave for non-monetary reasons e.g. not feeling trusted, supported or valued.


Job satisfaction is an key factor of employee retention and organizational success:
• One of the biggest organizational costs is staff replacement. Besides the tangible costs like termination, advertising, recruiting, selection, and training, there are also intangible costs like the temporary loss of efficiency, impact on morale and customer relationships. This is especially so since the team members lost are usually those who are the most talented and capable.
Staff retention and customer satisfaction. When employees are satisfied, they are less likely to even consider leaving their current jobs. Higher employee satisfaction is also correlated with higher customer satisfaction, which is key for business success.


Job satisfaction, in turn, is greatly affected by whether we feel our work is valued and appreciated. Most employees also want to express and receive appreciation with their coworkers, and have an encouraging work environment and good relationships with their colleagues. Thus, effective expression of appreciation is not just for supervisors and managers, but for any level in the organization.

In short, organizations are increasingly budget-strapped, and are unable to rely on financial rewards as a key form of encouragement or reward. Appreciation can greatly improve workplace satisfaction without large amounts of financial resources, to:
• Reduce employee turnover;
• Improve attendance, productivity and commitment; and
• Increase customer satisfaction


Each of us feels appreciated in different ways, i.e. we have different “languages of appreciation”. We also have a primary language and a secondary language of appreciation. We are most deeply fulfilled when we receive appreciation in our primary language. Within each language, people also have different “dialects” that they are more conversant with.


Effective appreciation and recognition must be tailored and delivered personally, and must be relevant and valuable to the individual. Unless we express our appreciation in others’ primary language, we “miss the mark” and fail to meet their deepest needs for appreciation.

Buy a copy of the book now for more details & examples.

We’ll now briefly introduce the 5 languages of appreciation. For more details, examples, tips and applications, do get the book, or our full book summary. 

Words of Affirmation. This language is about affirming others using written or spoken words, e.g. praise for accomplishments, affirming someone’s character.
Quality Time is about giving someone undivided personal attention, e.g. quality conversations,  shared experiences (e.g. retreats), small group dialogues.
Acts of Service is about pitching in to help and get things done, though there are nuances  to watch for (e.g. asking before helping, finishing what you start), else it may backfire.
Tangible gifts involve offering thoughtful, non-monetary gifts to those who appreciate them (e.g. tickets for a soccer match or a concert).
Physical Touch is a much less valued (and more sensitive) form of appreciation compared to the other 4 languages, but can be still relevant in the workplace. In the book / summary, we touch on some areas to look out for, when using this language of appreciation.

Do read the book (or get a copy of our full summary) for more details on each of these 5 languages, including examples and tips for application.

The book ends off with many tips on how to put the 5 languages to work. Here’s an outline of some of the key ideas:

• Start by identifying your language(s) of appreciation. Besides the tips in the book, you can also use the Motivating by Appreciation (or the “MBA”) Inventory for a detailed assessment. You can also learn your colleagues’ languages of appreciation by observing their behaviours, requests, and complaints.

Review these ideas easily with our book summary and infographic!

• It’s also important to know your least important appreciation language, which is usually meaningless to you. For example, if you don’t appreciate tangible gifts, you’ll continue to feel unappreciated even if your supervisor and co-workers shower you with gifts. If they didn’t know your languages of appreciation, they may misunderstand your lukewarm (or non-existent) response as a sign that you are negative or ungrateful. Knowing your colleagues’ least important appreciation language could save you a lot of unnecessary time, effort, and frustration when you express the “wrong” mode of appreciation.

• Our appreciation languages are generally consistent over time, and also moderately correlate with, or overlap with, our 5 personal love languages. However, we may experience shifts in our primary appreciation language during critical life events (e.g. loss of a loved one), changes in life stages (e.g. having a child, relocating overseas), or with different contexts or people (e.g. preferring a different form of appreciation from our supervisors compared to close colleagues).

• The book also addresses several challenges that must be overcome for effective workplace appreciation (e.g. busyness, lack of belief, personal discomfort, lack of genuine appreciation for your team members).



At the end of each chapter, the authors included a short list of questions to help you reflect on the points discussed. The MBA Inventory is also promoted heavily in the book, and each book comes with a registration code for an online assessment. For more details, go to

The authors also spend an entire chapter addressing how the Motivating by Appreciation model works across different industries and organization-types, including non-profit organizations, financial services, family-owned businesses, schools, ministries/ churches, medical / dental offices etc. The book also includes several additional articles, including how to pick up cues that your colleagues need more appreciation, how to reward volunteers etc. – For more details, go to, get a copy of the book or our full book summary now!

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Use the 5 Languages of Appreciation to improve relationships and results at work!

Click here to download “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” book summary and infographic.

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