Examples of Encouragement

The November 2018, on HR Challenges, did not only focus on the human resources department or the hiring of employees—it also discussed how to keep employees. In the article "Terms of Encouragement" by the SN Editorial Team (Editor Patricia L. Fitzgerald, Senior Editor Beth Roessner and Editorial Assistant Rachel O’Connell), school foodservice professionals of all levels are encouraged to value one another’s contributions by speaking the five languages of appreciation. In this piece of bonus web content, hear in first-person from Ervin Watson, MBA, nutrition coordinator for Douglas County (Ga.) Schools. His successful session at the 2018 Annual National Conference in Las Vegas on The 5Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, as developed by Drs. Gary Chapman and Paul White, inspired the November article and his testimony was so compelling that we’ve compiled even more of his vivid examples for you to employ in your own operations.

Words of Affirmation


This is my primary language. I tend to be more complimentary. I use my words, whether in blessing or in cursing. But I do tend to be more affirming than most people. And I enjoy receiving words of affirmation in return—it encourages me. As I’m sure you can tell, I could talk all day.

People know when you’re just blowing smoke. I’d rather get a sincere “hello” than an insincere “good to see you.” People can recognize insincerity; your spirit can recognize it and it feeds off of that. There has been a lot of study done about the brain and the mind. Neuroscientists can tell you what the brain is, and where it is, but they cannot tell you what the mind is and where it is because it’s not in a physical location—and likewise with emotions.

A compliment taps into the emotions. An insincere compliment is just words.

For Example:

  • For one employee of mine who had words of affirmation as a primary language, I’d fill out a thank you card for things they did well. When I left that position, this employee told me they had saved every card and note I’d ever written. It just really spoke to me how powerful speaking someone’s language and putting in the effort to appreciate someone really is.
  • It’s really unique and special when your children tell you that they appreciate what you do. My nineteen-year-old, it’s easy for him. He says “I love you” without a problem. But my 13-year-old has a problem with the language of appreciation. If I take him out to eat, or if I take him to baseball practice, he’ll say thank you or I love you, but he has to mumble.

Quality Time


Remember that quality time is about connection—it’s about your interest in them rather than them getting to know you. Make sure you’re not multitasking. That’s a myth. The human brain can only focus on one thing at a time (picture yourself on the phone while in the grocery store. You’re either not listening while you shop, or you’re driving an empty cart up and down the aisles). You really can’t do two things at one time.

Golf, for instance, has 100 commands at one time: left arm straight. Eyes down. Upper arm tucked in. But, at the end of the day, when you hit that ball, you can only focus on one thing. For me, it’s one, easy swing. For someone else, it’s not over-rotating. The rest is muscle memory. So, given what I know about quality time, when I’m typing at my desk and someone comes into my office to talk, I always ask if they need my undivided attention. And if they do, I stop everything else and give it to them.

For Example:

  • I had an employee who shared with me that what she appreciated most about me was when I’d come by and help her cup fruit. We’d work side-by-side on a talk together and that’s all she needed for quality time.
  • My youngest has asked to teach me Fortnite so that we can play together.
  • I have a pet peeve with me family. We always do family night—we rent a movie and do pizza and chicken. As they’ve gotten older, my kids pull their phones out. You can’t watch the movie and do that!

Acts of Service

For Example:

  • My wife and I went through a marriage seminar at church and I learned that her language is acts of service. Some women enjoy getting roses, but that’s not high on her list—I do that a couple of times per year. So, I wash the clothes once a month. And I do most of the cooking in the house. She wants me to do things like prepare the grilled salmon for her diets to show her appreciation.

Tangible Gifts

For Example:

  • Once, one of my managers had fallen ill before the first week of school. This manager has given me several gifts, including a few scriptures, so I knew that she felt most comfortable with tangible gifts. So, I pulled together a basket with some soda and candy that she liked, costing just about $30.00, which enabled me to express appreciation in a way that would be meaningful to her during a difficult time.

Physical Touch

For Example:

  • Once establishing that this is Appropriate, Appreciated and Allowed, I have given employees who express themselves this way a good, old-fashioned mama hug. It motivated them and made their day worthwhile.
  • Body language will let you know, most times, whether physical touch is appreciated. I had a team that was not shy about hugs. But when I went to hug one person, she froze up. So, I didn’t pat her on the back or draw attention. I just respected that it was not her language.

I got to know her family and we had a great working relationship. And, later, because I did not feel the need to force that on her, when there were health issues, she asked for a hug or asked me to pray with her. So, these things can be situational.

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