Appreciation at Work: Tangible Gifts (Language #4)


“Free Bagel Fridays” were the best. Every Friday bagels were delivered to the staff room for free breakfast (this was before gluten awareness). My first grown-up job after college was a position in a company that expressed appreciation through food.

In this blog we will be exploring Language #4: Tangible Gifts. This series is based on Gary Chapman & Paul White’s book, “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.” The book defines “Tangible Gifts” as rewards that can send a powerful message of thanks, appreciation, and encouragement (does not include bonuses or pay raises).

Tangible Gifts is my least valued Language of Appreciation. The book warns of the blind spot we can have for the Language that is lowest on our list. I don’t enjoy shopping for others or even myself. I am more of a minimalist so I don’t like trinkets to clutter up my work space. I only want to spend money on a gift if I know for sure the recipient will want and use it. I have to be careful of this blind spot at work because I could have colleagues that want to be appreciated through gifts.

Guidelines for Gift-Giving:

1. Give gifts to people who really appreciate them.

2. Give a gift that the person values.

3. The gift needs to communicate time and energy was spent on the selection process (i.e. not generic).

I’m not interested in sports. My boss giving me tickets to a baseball game would not energize me. I learned from the book that gift-giving can also include paid time off. This got my attention because I highly value my time. An afternoon of free-time would definitely be received as appreciation.

Applying Appreciation:

1. Certificate for Bed & Breakfast so I can spend a romantic weekend with my spouse.

2. Gift card to a cool restaurant and movie tickets so I can have date-night or girls night out.

3. Certificate to a spa so I can get a massage.

4. Gift card to a bookstore (or because I am always reading new books.

5. Post-it notes that are colored, lined, and in a variety of sizes. (I love post-it notes!)

Choosing the right gift is crucial to communicate that I value my colleague.  The wrong gift can be offensive. A generic gift says, “you are not special and I didn’t put any thought into this present.”  I would save gift-giving for only special colleagues that I know well.  When I choose the right gift for the right person, I can help build friendships with my colleagues. My hope is  that I can help create a positive working environment where my colleagues feel valued and appreciated so they continue to give their best.

Years later, I still love the idea of “Free Bagel Fridays.” Food is the easiest way for companies and coworkers to do something special. Now that I have a better understanding of Tangible Gifts and how it is my blind spot, I can explore new ways to express appreciation to my colleagues.

Reflect & Share: (a) What Tangible Gift would you love to receive from your coworkers that would communicate “we appreciate you!”? (b) What gift can YOU give a colleague that would be received well?


1. Take the assessment to find out what specifically YOU need to feel appreciated. ($15 or free with purchased book). There are specialty assessments for schoolmedicalnon-profit/ministrymilitary, and long-distance.

2. Buy: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (book)

3. Learn more by watching videos



Filed under communication

4 responses to “Appreciation at Work: Tangible Gifts (Language #4)

  1. Pingback: Appreciation at Work: Recognition is Not the Same as Appreciation | My Journey to a Fulfilled Life

  2. Pingback: Appreciation at Work: Series Overview | My Journey to a Fulfilled Life

  3. Pingback: Appreciation at Work: Series Review | My Journey to a Fulfilled Life

  4. Pingback: One Year Blogging (#6): 3 Blogs about Work | My Journey to a Fulfilled Life

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