What is appreciation?

When you tell someone you value his or her specific contribution you are giving appreciation. Suppose you had asked someone for some thoughts on a current situation. You could say something like “Thank you for your excellent note. It was short, you did it very promptly and it answered all the questions I had.”

Why give appreciation?

It makes people feel good and increases their energy and commitment.

It rewards and encourages the behaviour you want.

It encourages people to pay attention to, and magnify, what already works well.

It quickly spreads, if you take the lead, and increases co-operation and teamwork.

It is good to give and costs nothing.

If you give it a lot, you will eventually get some for yourself.

How to use appreciation?


Appreciate people doing things right as you see them doing their work. This can be as ordinary as saying “What a lovely tidy desk”.

Appreciate people making a special effort. “Thanks for staying over to get that proposal off last night. You had to do it in a rush, but it still looked very professional, as always”.

Appreciate people for trying. Someone might give you an idea that looks impractical. You could say, “Thank you for that, your ideas are always interesting. Do you have any thoughts on the first steps?”

Appreciate your boss! He or she is human and will respond positively. You could say, “I appreciate your supporting my position at the project planning meeting”.

At meetings

When you have a particularly good meeting, ask people what made it go so well and why.

If you wish, you can give each other appreciation on your contribution to the success of a very important or extended meeting or project.

After every meeting, ask the people for their thoughts on what went well at the meeting and why. You can then use these thoughts to make every meeting go as well.

For organisation development

There is a new approach to managing change based on appreciation called “Appreciative Enquiry“. You find out what already works well and help people build from this. For example, if you wanted to increase peoples’ commitment to customer care, you would find examples in the organisation where this was already going well. Then you would help them create a shared vision and a plan of action starting from there.

When to use appreciation?

When you genuinely value what someone else has done or how he or she is.

When someone who works for you or a colleague has done a good piece of work.

When you are in a meeting, especially one that is going well.

When a project has been successful.

When you want to create a positive cultural change.

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