Those of you who have worked with me know that sometimes I pull something and use it in a way it may not have been intended. I may use a marketing tool to assess your life. Or take a parenting technique and apply it to your business. The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman is one of those multi-purpose tools I find myself using time and time again.
The book is designed for couples — to bring them closer together. But I have found the information especially useful in a workplace setting. Let me ‘splain, Lucy.
Dr. Chapman, a marriage counselor with over 30 years of experience, suggests that there are five primary ways people experience feeling loved. They are:
So let’s look at each Love Language. Physical Touch people feel loved when they are in physical contact with others — hugs, pats on the back, sex. In a workplace setting, Physical Touch people must be very, very careful… but if you supervise someone who is “touchy-feely”, you may find a literal pat on the back may do wonders for his performance.
Quality Time folks like spending one-on-one time with another person. They will make time for you, and like when you make time for them. If someone continually finds excuses to linger in your office, they might be a Quality Time person, trying to satisfy that need.
People motivated by Acts of Service will do things for you. At home, these are people who fold and put away your laundry. Or do your dishes. Or get your car inspected, or your tires rotated. In the office, these folks might offer to get you lunch while they get their own. Or bring you a package from the front desk they just happened to spot.
Although we’d like to think that Gifts are restricted to small blue boxes from Tiffany’s, Gifts can be as small as a cookie from a favorite restaurant, or a souvenir from a trip. Gifts people like knowing you were thinking of them when you were apart. Finally, people motivated by Words of Affirmation need to be told that they are valued and appreciated.
Dr. Chapman says that often we speak to others using our own Love Language — which may or may not be relevant to the other person. This is how relationships get in trouble — I tell you you’re wonderful because I’m a Words of Affirmation person, and it means absolutely nothing to you because you’re an Acts of Service person. “Sweet words are nice, but what have you done for me lately?” might be the response.
Many troubled marriages, suggests Chapman, could be saved if only the partners would speak each other’s Love Language. When you consider how many women report that their husbands never “do anything around the house” — they’re expressing their Acts of Service orientation — and how many men complain that they don’t get enough sex — they’re expressing their Physical Touch leanings — the concept of speaking Love Languages to each other becomes very clear.
Wouldn’t it be fascinating to consider that the difficult boss you struggle with could be transformed – - if you just started speaking to him in his Love Language? Do a few Acts of Service, and diffuse the tension. Give him some Words of Affirmation and get him off your back…
Dr. Chapman’s main point is that if you speak the other person’s Love Language rather than your own, you will fill up their “Love Tank” — increasing their attachment and regard for you — and create a happier, healthier relationship.
I have to tell you that this really works. It works with partners, children, parents, siblings, friends and co-workers. It even works with ex-spouses! Many people have a primary language as well as a secondary one — make it your business to know the Love Language of those important to you, as well as your own, and you will greatly increase your life satisfaction. Promise.