Report on the “Motivation at Work – the language of affirmation” business matters lunchtime talk given by Marjory Morrow of mouldbreakers on 24 April 2013.
business matters is very grateful to Balfour and Manson who hosted the event and provided refreshments for those attending.
To see the PowerPoint slides used by Marjory, and hear a 30 minute recording of her talk, use the icons at the foot of the page.
Marjory started her talk with the following quote from Steven Covey: ‘Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival, to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated’
We seek to motivate our staff and colleagues to maintain and improve performance and recognise the importance of this. We may not, however, recognise the value of affirmation in this process or, indeed, the consequences of not being affirmed. These can lead to employees feeling unconnected or discouraged, finding it easier to complain and less easy to perform effectively and, ultimately, to think about leaving.
Marjory described the “5 Languages of Affirmation” arising from work carried out by Dr Gary Chapman in the field of relationships but equally applicable in the workplace:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
She then unpacked these one by one with examples and illustrations – some of the key points are listed below:
Words of Affirmation
- These need to be audible – the recipient actually needs to hear them for this affirmation to be effective
- Give lots of verbal affirmation at all stages – reinforces the positive messages which you are trying to give
- Need to be encouraging, specific and supportive – this may mean a “lot” of words
- Can affirm accomplishments, character or personality
- Marjory gave an illustrated “scenario” – highlighting the point that more words but a bit of thought produces the desired response
- This has to involve real, undivided attention – it is not just a matter of “being around”
- Quality conversation adds to the effectiveness and engages the person
- Active, good quality listening is essential – Marjory gave some guidelines / reminders on how to do this
- It is essential to recognise that, while this is a minefield for the workplace, it is still valuable when used in an appropriate manner
- Examples were given (and demonstrated) of how this can work
- Marjory outlined some very valuable guidelines on how to ensure that there is no offence given and people are not placed in an uncomfortable or inappropriate position receiving this type of affirmation
- People can be sceptical of motives – e.g. “There is no such thing as a free lunch”
- Again this is, perhaps, a difficult area but one where there are positive results to be gained providing the choice of gift and the way in which it is given is appropriate
- Small but meaningful gifts were suggested by Marjory and some examples were given
- It may take a little effort in this country to get over the “American cheesiness” feeling – it is worth it
Acts of Service
- These need to be genuinely and freely given, not grudgingly
- This does not mean taking over but rather assisting/allowing others to do what they are best at/what is their higher priority
- Taking on the “menial” tasks is very powerful
- Actions really can speak louder than words
Marjory spent some time giving examples of how taking time to think about the best affirmation “language” and using it with each individual can change situations and behaviours in a positive way.
She highlighted the underlying aim of all these activities and efforts as she concluded with the following quotation, again from Steven Covey: ‘Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.’
Marjory had provided a short quiz to help each person identify the language of affirmation which is most relevant for them – this can be accessed as a PDF using the icon at the foot of the page.
And one final thought from Marjory on the topic of affirmation: ‘Remember, man does not live on bread alone: sometimes he needs a little buttering up.’