I’m a believer that our personal lives and professional lives are intertwined and that it’s nearly impossible to separate or compartmentalize them. So, when a manager or employee comes to me for advice, I try to look for clues to the big picture instead of just that situation. Often when I’m assessing a situation, whether it is in my personal or professional life, I think back to a book I read ten years ago. The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. Dr. Chapman is a well-known and respected pastor, author, and speaker. And, while this book was written to assess and address the language of love that is meaning to someone on an individual level, I”ve found that there are many business uses for the book.
The basic premise Dr. Chapman asserts is that there are five “languages” of love and that each one of us has a primary language. If your partner speaks a different “language”, there is a good chance you will not feel loved. So, the idea is to identify your primary love language and your partner’s, then work to use the language the other person responds to best.
The five love languages
- Words of Affirmation- This person identifies most with compliments and other words that say you value them. If you insult this person, it will affect them more deeply than other people.
- Quality Time– This person values your undivided attention. If you miss a meeting or appointment with this person, they will truly be hurt.
- Receiving Gifts– It’s not just the gift that is important to this person, but the thought behind it. If you miss this person’s birthday or anniversary, they may be crushed.
- Acts of Service- This person feels happiest when you are showing your love by helping them. Whether it’s pitching in on a chore at home or helping with a big project at work, this person will feel valued and cared for.
- Physical Touch- This is not a language just about sexual contact. The person that speaks this language feels important when they are hugged, get a pat on the back, or your hand on the shoulder. This one is harder to demonstrate at work due to sexual harassment laws, however, it can still be demonstrated in moderation. The pat on the back, fist bump, shaking hands, or high five can fill in and still show this person they are valued by using physical contact.
If you think about the people you work with; your team members, colleagues and peers, subordinates, try to figure out which language seems to apply most to each person.
Let’s imagine you’re the type of leader who is very busy and recognizes performance only with money (pay increases, spot bonuses, etc.). You are speaking the Receiving Gifts language. But if I am the person who works for you and my primary language is Quality Time, I will not feel valued or cared for. The one thing that would make my day is to have you show up for a meeting on time or meet with me one-on-one. Or, if I feel valued when you notice that I’m carrying a heavy workload and you offer to pitch in and help me meet a big deadline, you’re speaking my language of Acts of Service.
There are many benefits of learning your own love language and how you can use the love languages model to communicate more effectively with people in your personal and professional life. You will build stronger relationships and have more engagement with the people in your life. To take a quiz to find out your own love language, click HERE. Then, tell me what your love language is in the comments. For anyone who has met me or knows me from reading my blog, there will be no surprise to my results.
Mine is physical touch and words of affirmation almost equally. Must explain why I’m a hugger who likes compliments! 🙂
Hi Trish —
I am a big fan of Chapman’s book and actually wrote about the five love languages earlier this year. Great minds think alike, I guess?
My love language, without a doubt, is words of affirmation. So, please, say something nice about me? 🙂
Here’s a link to my post: http://www.weavinginfluence.com/leadership/love-and-influence-at-work
Great post, but that is the norm for you. Brought up some issues I had not thought of before. Please accept this virtual hug.
@John- Thanks for the hug my friend, but what is your language??
Receiving of gifts was a 12. Everything else were 6’s or fewer.
@doug- Gifts? Really? You totally don’t come across like that. I’ll have to bring you a gift next time I see you.
Love this post! I’ve known my love languages for years now (quality time and words of affirmation), but never considered how they affected my work life. I’ll definitely be thinking about this and how I interact with others on my team.
Looking forward to meeting you in April at HRevolution! <>
@Beth- I’ll have to remember your languages when I meet you. Fair warning….I’m a hugger though so hope you don’t mind if I hug you when I meet you. 🙂
I’m words of affirmation, scored a 12. Not surprising, I like feedback both in the office and in my personal life. The second score was an 8 with Physical Touch, which is weird because I’m not a hugger.
This was a fun post Trish 🙂 And I totally see you as the physical touch type. (hugs!)
@April- Come over here while I tell you how great you are and I’ll either hug you or smack you on the bootie! (just kidding….FL flashback)
I was all about the Quality time with a score of 11. I really thought I would want presents more, I tend to be a little spoiled but that was only a 4. Acts of service was a 7 though, that probably counts. Great post!
@Shauna- I would have guessed Physical Touch for you because you are definitely a hugger. I’ll have to remember to carve out more time to show you I care and also do little things for you. 🙂
I got quality time, but pretty much all the criteria came out sort of low. Maybe I need to get in better touch with my feelings.
@Steve- Surprised about the quality time for your result. You’re usually a loner. Guess we’ll all have to start spending more time with you.
I scored highest in Words of Affirmation (10). Acts of Service was a zero.
@Matt- Really? Well, you are definitely one person it would be easy for me to give words of affirmation to. You’re one of the smartest, most thoughtful gentlemen I know. Even though I don’t tend to need Acts of Service myself, I notice that is one way I tend to show other people I value them. I try to “DO” things to demonstrate I care. Brings a whole new angle. We may feel value through one language but show value to others more in another language. I think you’re a gift giver. 🙂
@Trish, it was quality time and words of affirmation.
I was highest in Quality Time with a 9 and Physical Touch at 8. Receiving Gifts was lowest at 2. So forget the diamonds; give me your attention and a hug!
I scored a 10 on Physical Touch. I thought this was weird at first. But the more I thought about it, I like to hug people I like. More importantly, I find great value in just sitting next to people I know and like. It’s the proximity that is sometimes more important than the conversation.
Weirdly enough, I never thought I required gifts from ANYONE; most peoples’ gifts are usually FAR from what people THINK I want.
Don’t worry about a gift; I feel a bit uncomfortable about that admission…
I was highest in Quality Time I really love to spend most of my time with people in my life even just sitting and having a conversation with them means a lot to me.
Quality Time and Words of Affirmation. So, when can we chat to help me launch my blog? I’m looking for time from you to hear how engaging it is, or ideas to change so people will get engaged. The pre-employment background screening business can be a bit dry, so I’m looking to add some zest and life to it! DK
Great post, Trish. I recently wrote about the love languages on Compensation Cafe. Some of my comments there:
Apparently, we each have a “language” in which we receive love, whether it be gifts, or acts of service (like changing the oil or doing the laundry), or direct expressions of love (cards, etc.) But if your love language is “receiving gifts” and your significant other only speaks “acts of service,” then you will feel unloved even as your mate is trying his or her best to demonstrate their love.
The same is true with our employees. We often think we are showing them love – recognizing and appreciating them and their efforts – when in fact we may be speaking our own language of recognition and not that of the employee. We could be insulting and even reducing the productivity of employees by ignoring their preferences in favor of our own.
I, like you, encountered Dr. Chapman’s model approximately 10 years ago. And, as you, have thought it to be a potentially effective model at explaining and predicting behavior in relationships both in personal and in business contexts. To date, I have not found much literature about the model in management and business circles and wondered if you had been successful.