Things to Say or Do to Encourage Your Coworkers (without making them feel like you need something from them!)

woman leading a group showing how to encourage coworkers

Being a good employee often involves more than just showing up on time and wearing clean clothes. I make it a goal to be a catalyst of positivity for my fellow employees. That is why I decided to read Gary Chapman and Paul White’s book, “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People”. It’s a great resource if you want to help your company or organization thrive. And I’m going to share some insights and tips I’ve come up with from reading the book.

(Note: they are not exactly what the authors suggest. They are the results of my own reflections on what they wrote. The book is way more comprehensive.)

Five Things to Do to Encourage Your Coworkers

As Chapman and White emphasize when a company—employer and employee alike—acts on encouraging each other or practices coworker appreciation, then job satisfaction will be high and staff retention will be attained. That’s why it’s good discipline to learn how to encourage coworkers and act on it. But how best to do it?

Here are five things you can do to encourage coworkers. And it’s worth noting that I’ve applied some of these tips, while the others I have yet to do. Nevertheless, these tips are applicable and practical whether you’re in a nonprofit organization, a startup company, a huge corporation… really, they’re applicable anywhere.

1. Approach a coworker and ask him or her how his or her day is going, then stay and listen attentively.

Doing this entails that you take the time to talk with and listen to a coworker without looking at your phone and glancing at your watch repeatedly. This action also necessitates you to be present in the moment. So don’t think about other things as you listen. Indeed, as a step of encouragement for coworkers, this simple act communicates that you care.

2. Send a coworker who seems to be feeling down a Post-It note that has an encouraging quote on it.

This can be extended to both your boss or a colleague. But of course, you have to take into account the nature of your relationship with your immediate supervisor. Assess if your work relationship will allow you to do this without creating any wrong impressions or misinterpretations.

3. Treat the team you’re leading (food is good!) and verbally express that their hard work is appreciated.

This simple act can boost the morale of your team members or colleagues by a lot. It’s not bribery, but a gesture that communicates that you are willing to invest in your people and put your money where your mouth is. Actions speak louder than words after all.

4. Tell your boss at least one positive thing you’ve noticed he or she has been doing lately.

Make sure that when you do this, you are not in line for a promotion or something akin to that. Timing is key for this to be expressed most effectively. You don’t want to seem like you’re cozying up to the boss.

5. Always try to find the positive in the people you work with—and say it!

It’s as simple and straightforward as that. If you notice any positive quality, good personality trait, or strong work ethic in the people you work with, then don’t be stingy with words of encouragement. Say it loud and clear in person. Don’t just text or email it. Most people often appreciate hearing encouragement rather than reading them.

Five Things to Say as Encouragement for Coworkers

Of course, maintaining eye contact as you say any of these statements is vital. Make sure you’re not looking at your watch or fiddling with your phone. And be certain that you are coming from a genuine place when you deliver any of these statements.

1. “Thank you for your hard work.”

This sentence may be simple, but it totally packs a punch in the appreciation department. By saying this with sincerity, either to your boss or a colleague at your department, you are giving the person a verbal pat on the back. And everybody needs one of those every once in a while.

2. “Is there anything I can do to help or assist you?”

Just as Chapman and White explain in the book, you must make sure that you have already finished the tasks you have for the day before offering to help a coworker. If you don’t, extending your assistance can backfire and even create the wrong impression for your supervisor and colleagues.

3. “I always appreciate the effort and time you put into your work every day.”

Get your butt off the chair you’re sitting on now, walk towards the last coworker you’ve worked with on a project, and encourage that person with this simple sentence. This expresses that you recognize the hours of hard work done by your coworker.

4. “I may not say it all the time, but I truly value the contribution and the energy you bring to the office every day.”

This statement, especially if it comes from a supervisor, truly uplifts the spirit of a worker. Whether you’re a manager or an entry-level employee, saying this sentence is an encouragement for coworkers. It’s a very clear expression that you value the person’s contribution to the company.

5. “I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity to work with you here.”

You may not necessarily feel this way about anyone in the office, especially if you find yourself in a position where you’re just new to the company. But still, think of at least one colleague to express this in wholehearted sincerity.


A Final Note of Encouragement for You

Yes, you! While you are excited to go the extra mile and genuinely show appreciation to your coworkers, not everyone will appreciate your effort or even recognize your actions at all! And you definitely can’t please everyone. But take heart in the fact that you have done (or are doing) your part in cultivating a healthy culture at your company by taking the path of coworker appreciation. Certainly, in the long run, kindness always shines the brightest, and the truth of your actions will come out, sooner or later.

About the Author

Kira Gochuico is a creative writer and a hungry reader of short stories, novels and self-improvement books of all kinds. Plus, she's into fitness and the endless search for great coffee. As a copy editor with Project Bold Life and Bold Business, she loves to encourage and support other writers with much gusto to hone their craft. She also believes that while it's great that people are reading works from writers of this generation, it's always good discipline for everyone to read the classics or the works of the writers that came before us.
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