According to a book by Gary Chapman there are 5 different love languages. In order to meet each others’ needs in relationships, we can find out what the preferred language of our partner is and make sure that we speak their language, so that they feel loved by us.
Some of us want to ”hear” that we are loved, others want to be ”shown”. The five languages are:
- Words of Aﬃrmation
- Acts of Service
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
1. Words of Aﬃrmation
- I love you!
- You’re the best cook in the world!
- You look great in that dress!
2. Acts of Service
- Taking out the trash
- Bringing home dinner, so that you’re partner doesn’t have to cook
- Doing little or big things for the other person; being there for them.
- Little or big gifts
4. Quality Time
- Date Nights
- Sharing a hobby
- Having quality conversations, really listening to each other
5. Physical Touch
- Hugs, Holding hands
- Comforting touch on the arm
The conflict arises when partners keep talking different languages, as in, ”I keep telling you that I love you!” – ”Yes, but you never put the dishes in the dish washer!” :)
The 5 love languages in business
Once we know about the 5 love languages, we see that we can apply them in business just as well.
You may think that thanking your employees by giving them a bottle of wine will make them feel rewarded. But if Gifts don’t mean anything to them, or they don’t even drink wine, they might not appreciate it as much as you were hoping.
Everyone likes gifts. But for people with a love language other than Gifts, they won’t make up for any lack of appreciation they might feel in between gift and gift…
E.g. if their love language is Quality Time they might appreciate it much more if you literally spend more time with them. Whether that is a 5 min small talk to check in on how they are doing (at work and even beyond work) every now and then, or a lunch break together.
In virtual teams it may mean that you have regular Skype or Google Hangout meetings with them, rather than only communicating by email.
People with the love language Words of Affirmation of course want to hear that they are doing a good job, that you can’t imagine running your business without them, or how their input and presence in your business makes a difference to you.
However to an Acts of Service person all the Words of Affirmation may just be a lot of Blah Blah.
Let’s say you hired a VA or a Web Designer and you keep telling them how wonderful they are, but they might think, “Yeah right, if you keep saying I’m so great, why have you never referred a single client to me or provided a testimonial?” because they feel most appreciated when you do something for them.
Physical touch, granted, is a bit difficult in virtual teams :) however in all other cases it may mean to hug – if it’s appropriate for your work relationship – or to touch someone on the arm, while assuring them of something, or to pad them on the shoulder when you thank or praise them.
How do you know which love language your associates speak?
Well, you don’t. At least not in the beginning.
That’s why I’d always recommend to be aware of all of them and to “speak” all languages.
Obviously – be a little careful and use your common sense with Physical Touch. Some people just don’t appreciate it. And pay a lot of attention and respect to cultural differences, too!
In all other cases you can’t do much wrong if you use them all. You will notice which ones are appreciated more than others over time.
Also, here’s another idea: Ask them! :)
So what can you do today?
- Try out the Gifts language by giving everyone on your team a copy of Gary Chapman’s book and simply ask them what they think their preferred love languages is!
- Send them a Thank You note, or call them to Thank them, just because.
- Write someone a testimonial or endorse them on Linkedin. Not because they asked you to, but because you want them to know how much you appreciate them.
- Write about them on your blog, in your newsletter or on Facebook!
- Give them a chance to post a guest blog on your own blog.
- Offer to interview them. Or allow them to interview you! Whatever is more valuable to them right now.
Most of these actually cover more than one language.
What will you do from now on?
What is YOUR love language?
What has been the most meaningful way someone has ever shown appreciation to you?
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