I had the pleasure of meeting Paul White at the HTG Peer Group Leadership Academy day in Florida back in November 2015. At the end of his keynote speech, Samantha went to meet him and got me a signed copy of this book, but it has taken me until now to prioritise reading it.
After I read the book and before I started on this review, I looked back at my notes from when I met Paul, which served to be a useful refresher. I think he covered the whole of the book and my one A4 page of notes summed it up pretty well too.
The book starts by ensuring you understand that recognition and appreciation are typically delivered for very different reasons. Recognition is usually given for performance. Appreciation however should be more about the person and the efforts that have been made to deliver, irrespective of the performance outcome.
The main assertion of the book is that there are five ways you can show your appreciation which are words of affirmation, quality time with a business leader, acts of service such as helping with a project, tangible gifts and finally physical touch. The book then expands to explain that people have their own primary preference of how they like to be appreciated. For some people having quality time with their supervisor means much more than a pat on the back (physical touch) or a well done (words of affirmation). The book also warns that the primary preference may change for many reasons making this nothing like an exact science. That certainly messes with my analytical head.
Obviously the book has lots of examples and provides assistance for you to work out which language is best for each of your colleagues. In fact, with the book comes a code to allow access to their online testing tool called the MBA Inventory, if you wish to formally run tests. There are also suggestions as to how you can work out people’s primary language from observation, which depending on how you plan to use the knowledge from this book, maybe a better route anyway.
My own primary language are words of affirmation. Nothing is better for me than one of my leadership team, anyone at my office, a customer or a supplier congratulating or thanking me for something I have done or put in place for the business. My secondary language is physical touch and I am the first to offer a handshake or cuddle when the time is right. My least valued language are tangible gifts. Other than penicillin, what do you give the man who has everything?
Whilst reading this book (still on a tour of France), Samantha and I played the game of trying to work out which of the team at Business Computer Solutions would select which of the five appreciation languages as their primary choice.
When we get back to the UK we will be working with the leadership team to bring them up to speed with what we have learned from this book albeit, probably not to systemise the giving of appreciation, but to avoid wasted appreciation given over in languages that the receivers just won’t value.