Appreciations Exercise

Acknowledgement: This is an adaptation of an exercise I learned from Barry Hopson and Mike Scally.

The idea

In a good learning event, people give of their best and often show more of themselves than they do otherwise. So everyone has a good insight into each other’s strengths. When you hear about your strengths from others and acknowledge them to yourself, this builds your motivation and self-confidence.

If you do this at the end of a workshop, you go away feeling good about yourself and your colleagues too.

The method

This version works best in groups of six to twelve; outside these limits you will probably want to adapt it, perhaps by breaking into smaller groups. It is very easy and sounds much more complicated than it is.

  1. Have people sit in a close circle, including the facilitator(s).
  2. Explain the value of feedback about strengths, as above.
  3. Give everyone a sheet of A4 paper, including the facilitators.
  4. Ask them to write their own name on the bottom of the paper CLEARLY.
  5. Pass paper to the person on the left
  6. That person writes a phrase or two or a few words, at the top of the page, to describe what she or he has most valued about the person whose name is on the bottom of the sheet.
  7. Fold the paper neatly so the comments are covered
  8. Pass the paper on to the next person and repeat steps 5,6 and 7 until everyone has had a go and has the paper back with his or her own name on the bottom.
  9. Everyone reads their own comments quietly.
  10. Ask each person to mark the one he or she likes the best.
  11. Ask people to stand up in a close circle, and ask everyone to say the strength she or he liked using positive words like “I am….” or “I have….”
  12. Remind people to take their pieces of paper home and treasure them.

We had a very dour manager called Tom on one course. Some months later I was chatting to him. Out of the blue he pulled open a drawer and found his piece of paper. He said, “You know I was very cynical about that exercise, but every time I am a bit down I look at the paper and it lifts my spirits!

I have used this a lot and have a lot of these “warm fuzzies” in my files. This is good!

If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick