Does Gender Affect How We Show & Receive Appreciation?

LaDonna GreinerWorkplaceLeave a Comment

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Do you think women are naturally more appreciative than men?

Does nature versus nurture play a role in our ability to express gratitude or accept appreciation?

In previous post, I spoke about how important workplace appreciation and recognition are for business success. Today, I’m exploring the differences in how each gender experiences these aspects.

Research is relatively new on this topic so the results are rather inconclusive. Instead, let’s look at some experiential case studies.

What Have You Experienced?

Do men show or receive appreciation differently than women? Interviews with business leaders tell what they notice.

Gerry, who works with a large staff of twenty-somethings, feels that he expresses appreciation to both genders equally and in the same way. However, he noted that when complimented on a project, men accept the praise personally taking credit for a job well done, whereas women often defer to others, attributing their success to the team or others who had a role in the project.

Is this a result of learned behavior, point of view, or gender? Personally, I believe these reactions result primarily from what we are taught growing up and how one views life.

Marleen, a bank manager, believes there is a difference between males and females. In general, she finds women are more inclined to do acts of gratitude such as a written note. Whereas, men are less likely to take the time to write a note but will give a gift. Based on her personal experience, she believes men are less likely to offer a response to the person expressing the gratitude, whereas women typically acknowledge the act.

This is fascinating because her observations could also be due to learned behavior or viewpoint. As they are growing up, who do girls and boys see writing letters or notes, giving gifts or expressing gratitude to another person? The behavior that is modeled is the most likely the way they will respond. Do you find that some people—men and women– are uncomfortable expressing appreciation or gratefulness? More than likely, you or someone you know find it awkward or embarrassing when it comes to saying thank you.

What Are the Obstacles to Appreciation for Men and Women?

In Appreciation at Work, Dr. Paul White and Gary Chapman talk about the “weirdness factor,” which I refer to as the “comfort factor.” The comfort factor refers to those who are not accustomed to receiving praise, or giving it and who might feel uncomfortable at first. However, increase your sincere expressions of gratitude and the level of comfort will increase. As a result, the thank yous that you receive may increase enabling you to become more at ease when receiving praise.

In my experience women adapt faster to the comfort factor with appreciation than men. This may be why Marleen experienced different responses from men and women. However, even though women may be more accustomed to responding to compliments and praise, it doesn’t mean men do not like to be praised.

Tough Guys Like Appreciation Too

J.P. supervises a small group of burly guys on a construction crew. After hearing me speak about the benefits of expressing appreciation in the workplace, he decided to try it out. At the end of the day, he thanked each one of the men for the great job they were doing to help bring the project in by deadline. And, he told them how much he appreciated specific skills.

As you can imagine, there were some guffaws and jokes. “Are you going soft on us J.P.?” However, some of the guys returned the thanks. J.P. saw the real impact of his efforts in the following days and weeks. As he continued to praise and thank them for specific things, he noticed they began to express appreciation to each other. He saw a higher level of camaraderie and cooperation within the crew which improved the quality of the work and increased productivity.

Helping each other to see and appreciate the positives in life results in a better place to work and live regardless of gender or point of view.

I would love to hear your stories of how men and women have shown and received appreciation in the comments below! If you don’t have any stories yet, start implementing these five fun recognition and appreciation plans and see what happens.

My next post will explore how we can choose to be more grateful. Subscribe today and be one of the first to receive my tips.


LaDonna Greiner

LaDonna Greiner is a writer, photographer, and life-long student of gratitude. Her book series, 21 Reasons to Say Thank You, offers real-life examples and suggestions to help you discover the power of gratitude and act on it. She is a Certified Facilitator for Appreciation at Work and a frequent speaker who coaches audiences on how to live a more fulfilling life through gratitude and appreciation. You can reach her at [email protected]

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