Nick Heap

Appreciations Exercise

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10 - 206 - 12

When you hear about your strengths from others and acknowledge them to yourself, this builds your motivation and self-confidence.

If you do this at the end of a workshop, you go away feeling good about yourself and your colleagues too.



Build your motivation and self-confidence



The idea

In a good learning event, people give of their best and often show more of themselves than they do otherwise. So everyone has a good insight into each other's strengths. When you hear about your strengths from others and acknowledge them to yourself, this builds your motivation and self-confidence.

If you do this at the end of a workshop, you go away feeling good about yourself and your colleagues too.

The method

This version works best in groups of six to twelve; outside these limits you will probably want to adapt it, perhaps by breaking into smaller groups. It is very easy and sounds much more complicated than it is.

  1. Have people sit in a close circle, including the facilitator(s).
  2. Explain the value of feedback about strengths, as above.
  3. Give everyone a sheet of A4 paper, including the facilitators.
  4. Ask them to write their own name on the bottom of the paper CLEARLY.
  5. Pass paper to the person on the left
  6. That person writes a phrase or two or a few words, at the top of the page, to describe what she or he has most valued about the person whose name is on the bottom of the sheet.
  7. Fold the paper neatly so the comments are covered
  8. Pass the paper on to the next person and repeat steps 5,6 and 7 until everyone has had a go and has the paper back with his or her own name on the bottom.
  9. Everyone reads their own comments quietly.
  10. Ask each person to mark the one he or she likes the best.
  11. Ask people to stand up in a close circle, and ask everyone to say the strength she or he liked using positive words like "I am...." or "I have...."
  12. Remind people to take their pieces of paper home and treasure them.

We had a very dour manager called Tom on one course. Some months later I was chatting to him. Out of the blue he pulled open a drawer and found his piece of paper. He said, "You know I was very cynical about that exercise, but every time I am a bit down I look at the paper and it lifts my spirits!

I have used this a lot and have a lot of these "warm fuzzies" in my files. This is good!


Source: Nick Heap's website

Acknowledgement: This is an adaptation of an exercise I learned from Barry Hopson and Mike Scally.

Comments (7) (4.8 avg / 4 ratings)

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  • Very lovely

    12 months ago
  • This will work well in my Organization. I'll give it a try during our end-of-year party. Most of the time we got stuck with work and feel we're not appreciated and things are all against us. Trying this method will surely lift our spirits up when we feel we're down.

    over 1 year ago
  • Just to follow-up, this was working really well in Mural, and everyone was very positive with big smiles after reading all the appreciations they got: Here is publicly share Mural template based that I created - feel free to copy it if you'd like to use it: And here is the breakdown of facilitation steps for the online format, based on Nick's live version above: 1. Explain the main purpose of the exercise 2. Invite everyone to join Mural with incognito link 3. Explain how to do it, and show an example (so far 5 mins) 4. Everyone writes appreciative comments (10-15 mins) - depending on the size of the group, allocate time so everyone has 1-2 mins to write for each group member. 5. Read, reflect, share the one they like best - 5-10 mins

    about 2 years ago
  • I'm planning to do this in Mural for our end-of-year team event the following way in a virtual setting. The key is to be able to temporarily hide the appreciative comments people write. In Mural's case, it doesn't allow to change the font color on post-it notes, but I can do this when using a Text box. 0. So as a starting point I created text boxes with yellow background and black font. 1. Every participant is going to write an appreciative comments, as many yellow text boxes, as many people they write to. 2. When they are done with an appreciate comment (text box), they change BOTH the post it background AND the font color to another color (e.g. orange) and then MOVE it to the big white box of the person, where his or her appreciations are collected  (This way the text stays hidden, and the orange background indicates that it's not an empty text box) 3. After everyone is done, and everyone's appreciation area (I set up a big rectangular space for each participant) is filled with orange colored text boxes, turn the font color on those orange boxes into black within your box, and read the comments.

    over 2 years ago
  • Love it and will use today! :) I usually do this acknowledgment verbally, but this way people feel more free. Thank you

    almost 3 years ago
  • I've done this activity at team retreats and participants always walk away with great feelings when they read the positive remarks shared by their peers. I'm getting ready to do a virtual retreat and I'm planning to use a survey monkey listing each participant's name and will ask the group to submit feedback for each participant. I will then compile the responses for each participant and send them a follow-up email containing the comments submitted.

    about 3 years ago
  • I love this! Any ideas as to how to do this in a virtual environment? We could use mural, but how to hide the previous person's comments?

    over 3 years ago