Have you heard of the 5 Love Languages? Dr. Gary Chapman, a marriage expert by biography, has identified five different ways people feel love: gifts, acts of service, touch, quality time, and words of affirmation (Find out your love language here). Each person can identify with one of these languages. Have you ever thought about how these love languages can apply in the workplace? Let’s face it, we sometimes spend more time with our coworkers than our family. It’s important that the relationships that are developed at work are healthy and happy. Communication and love/appreciation can lead to greater success.
Here are a few suggestions on how to use what you know about your coworkers’ love languages in the way you interact with them at work:
Words of Affirmation
This is probably the easiest to do in the office. Those who speak this love language want to be told that they are doing a good job. It’s not that they are looking for constant praise or that they need their egos inflated, they just like to hear they are doing a good job. Some ideas of how to encourage these people are: leaving them small notes of praise and letting them know you appreciate their efforts. If they come to you for feedback, give them positive feedback first, then phrase the constructive criticism in a way that doesn’t come across as demeaning. Words mean a lot to these individuals, so be cautious of how you say things when you’re talking to them.
Most people in offices spend time together at lunches, meetings, etc. For people with this love language, it isn’t about quantity, but how the time together is spent. These kind of people like one-on-one time with their superiors/coworkers to discuss things important to them and their work. Schedule meetings with them where they have your undivided attention to discuss the details of a specific project. Occasionally take them to a lunch just to say “Thank You.” With these coworkers, avoid abandoning them on a project. They work better in teams with lots of time spent to make the best of the job.
Thoughtful gifts can mean a lot to some people. This doesn’t mean you have to go all out to buy them fancy things every quarter, but make sure those of your co-workers that speak this language aren’t left out. Bonuses and Christmas gifts are great but they are usually only given out once a year, which could leave these people lacking for appreciation. Try simple things like bringing them treats/snacks to work that are for them. If you see that they have worked extra hard a on a project, give them a gift card to their favorite restaurant. Take the time to see what they enjoy (chocolate, socks, etc.) and occasionally bring them something to show your appreciation.
Acts of Service
Serving people can be a little tough in the workplace because you don’t want to infringe on someone’s privacy, but for peers who feel appreciated when someone is serving them, it’s nice to find a way to do this in the office. Be creative in ways to show them you care about what they are doing. Actions speak louder than words for these folks. Offer to fill up their water bottle if you are going to the kitchen. Or, if you notice them struggling under a large workload, offer to help them tackle some of the hardest parts of a project. If you are close to the individual, offer to babysit their kids so they can have some alone time with a spouse, or even offer to wash their car.
This is one love language that can get a little complicated at work. Most physical contact is not typically appropriate at work. It’s important to take precautions to avoid harassment and it’s respectful to be conscious of someone’s comfort zone. A high five or fist bump is always a good choice, no matter the gender or relationship. If you are closer to the person, a pat on the back can make them feel appreciated. Remember, people typically have more than one love language, so you can often use the other love languages to show appreciation in situations where this one would not apply.
No matter which love languages you or your coworkers speak, everyone likes to feel valued. In group meetings, be sure to thank everybody for what they have done. Appreciation is a key to a successful company. In a recent survey, more than half of the employees surveyed revealed that they stay longer at their jobs when the boss showed more appreciation.
So, now you can take the love languages quiz here with your coworkers to find out what everyone’s love languages are and learn how to better show appreciation and gratitude around the office.