1 Objectives 2 Group Size 3 Materials 4 Set Up 5 Directions 6 Debrief 7 Alternatives
Building a team spirit Helping each member feel valued Reinforcing what is working well for the team Raising awareness of each person's contributions
Paper and writing utensils
Have everyone be seated where they can see each other (around a table or in a circle of chairs). If the meeting must be a video conference, make sure everyone can see and hear all others. Introduce the ideas that: everyone makes contributions, large and small, to the team/organization; acknowledging each other's value is good for the person and for the whole team; this is not to compare people nor to put anyone "on the spot." Appreciations can be about single actions or ongoing ways. Each should be very brief - one or two sentences. Ask people also to add a "result" - I appreciate that you did x. Because of you doing that, I felt/was able to/we succeeded in . . "
Give several examples of appreciations: Kavinda, I appreciate that you made sure we all had adequate time for breaks during our long retreat last week. I might have just kept on going and getting exhausted, and the breaks really helped me to refresh and think better. Joe, thanks for checking in with me about how my big project was going - I felt supported. Pat, you really watch out for our safety, and that makes me feel more safe and also more aware.
Say that the only response of the "receiver" of appreciations is to nod or say "thanks" or "you're welcome" - no denial or discussion at this time.
Directions Give 5 minutes of quiet time in which each person can think about their appreciations for others and jot them down. Assure them that their notes are for themselves only. (Skipping this step may result in people being "not present" because of mentally composing what they will say while others are speaking. It also helps prevent people from feeling anxious. Assure them that if they think of something different later, they are not bound by what they wrote.) Ask for a volunteer for the first person to "receive" appreciations. Each person around the table offers one appreciation to that person. The leader can help remind talkers to keep the comments short and on target, and for the receiver to just "take them in." After each person is appreciated by all, the leader can have everyone applaud, or the leader can say "Thank you for those and your other contributions, [Pat]." Go around the circle having each person receive appreciations from all others.
Debrief Suggest that people think about how they felt receiving appreciations. Also, ask them to think of other things that they would like to be appreciated for. The leader can determine whether or not to give the opportunity during this session to share such reflections.
Instead of an in-person session, have each team member write their appreciations for each other person. These can be shared with all, either electronically or on a physical bulletin board, and refreshed periodically or on an ongoing basis. Creative alternatives to this activity are welcome!