I’m rereading the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, and I’ve come to the realization that we should relegate these languages to just romantic relationships. I believe they should be used for all of our relationships. As a fairly new manager, I’m finding ways to keep the people I work with happy with me and what they are doing. I think using the 5 love languages while at work is a pretty good step. Hopefully, in this blog, I’ll make it very practical to use them at work.
Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation is probably the most used method of praise in the workplace. We do it by saying, “Great job on that report.” or giving praise in the quarterly employee review. Whenever possible it’s good to uplift someone’s efforts by publicly and privately showing appreciation with words. Even a positive comment on a blouse, tie, or new haircut can boost someone’s moral. People definitely need to hear that they efforts are making a difference, but it’s not the same for all people. This is where the idea of using the 5 love languages came from.
I’m one of those people that don’t need words of affirmation. I have a strong belief in what I do, and I don’t necessarily need the affirmation from other people. Although, it’s always good to make sure people are appreciated by the verbal praise, it may not be the thing that motivates some people like me. In my experience at work, it seems like it’s the only thing that is the norm.
Acts of Service
For some reason acts of service, is one of the least used love languages at work. Some managers have a belief that the work that their subordinates do is below them, so helping them whether they are struggling or not is nonexistent. Acts of service is any easy way to say that actions speak louder than words. I’m going to remix John F. Kennedy and quote, “Ask not of what your employee can do for you, but what you can do for your employee.” Instead of giving them tasks all the time, find ways to make their load easier. If it’s not work related, maybe spend some time to get your group out to a happy hour, so plan a team outing. Do some work so it feels like we are all in this together.
This one is hard for me because I don’t care too much for gifts. It’s not my love language. That shouldn’t stop me from giving gifts to those who do have this love language. I know giving gifts may connote favoritism or other perceptions that may be deemed inappropriate, but the gifts don’t have to be big in nature. It could easily just be a handwritten note that shows your appreciation. Bring in donuts from time to time. I’d like to be more healthy, so don’t bring those donuts around me. The next time you go on a coffee run (boba runs for me), make sure you buy a cup for your team. Don’t have them pay you back either.
Spending quality time with multiple people is probably the hardest thing. Some people are very independent. They just want their tasks, so they can spend time on their computer with their headphones on. Others relish the time they can spend with you. Training is a perfect time to spend quality time with another person. Some managers tell their reports to just go figure something out. That’s challenging and something to overcome, but don’t be surprised if they become resentful of your method. Try to spend 1 on 1 time with your team at least once a week. Take some time to walk around, or just talk to everyone. It doesn’t have to be about work. It’s just nice that your spending time with them.
This one is a touchy subject (I love puns) in the wake of the #MeToo movement and all that’s been going on recently. I do feel as though physical touch has gotten a bad rap, and it’s allowed us to be super cold to individuals. I think people have the intuition to know the difference between touch that is genuine and touch that is creepy. This is not a license to be a creep. I believe if you see someone having a bad day, you should be able to give them a hug. You should be able to touch someone on their shoulder for reassurance. If all that is too risky for your taste, nothing’s wrong with a simply high five.
I hope this blog was a reminder that everyone has their own way of feeling love. Love isn’t relegated to just your spouse. Everyone around you should feel loved. These are the people you are around for the majority of your life, so why not create an environment of love. Maybe love languages should taught through HR. I know to implement these in my workplace, and I know that it will create a better working environment for me and those around me. So, what are your love languages?