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  • Writer's pictureSusan & Renée

Applying the Love Languages to the Workplace


Appreciation is key to team morale and creativity. It lets the people around you know that you value their contribution to the organization. Gary Chapman has worked to expand his Love Languages concept to help people customize positive feedback in the business world.  Whether you are a business leader or want to work more effectively with your coworkers, the love languages provide an effective communication tool.

 

In our last blog, we discussed the origins of the love languages, briefly outlined the five languages and described how we use them with our psychotherapy clients.

 

Now, let's take a look at the love languages through a business lens.

 

As with personal relationships, all of these modes of appreciation have a place in the work world. Understanding which language resonates more with your coworkers will enhance communication leading to better relationships and collaboration.

 

Here are examples of how the 5 love languages can be effectively translated to the business world.

 

Words of Affirmation: Employees who identify as a words of affirmation type will feel most appreciated when you verbally recognize their achievements. It is important for the appreciation to be sincere and specific, not just a generic, “Good job”.  

Example: “I really appreciated how you jumped in to handle the production issue. You solved the problem and got us back on track sooner than expected”.

 

Acts of Service: For those in this category, actions speak louder than words. Doing something that is helpful and will ease their load makes them feel valued. Be sure that you respect professional boundaries and check in before taking the initiative to help out. If you don’t, you risk making the person feel that they are not doing their job well.

Example: You notice that a colleague is coming in early and working late. Offering to help them with the project or take something else off their plate can make your associate feel seen and supported.

 

Quality Time: These will be the people who thrive on the team spending time together to build camaraderie. Especially in hybrid workplaces, it is important to find ways to connect with quality time folks beyond the daily zoom meetings.

Example: Planning group lunches or scheduling one on one time will help those who value quality time feel appreciated. This can be more tricky in the virtual workplace. Check out our previous blog on virtual team building.

 

Receiving Gifts: This love language can be misconstrued as having to be an actual gift. It is more about a physical representation of appreciation and the thought put behind the gift. 

Example: A handwritten note or a favorite dessert to recognize an achievement will make someone with this language feel recognized. Incentive programs or bonus structures will also resonate significantly with this type of colleague.

 

Physical Touch: This of course is the trickiest in the work setting. You may want to reference human resource policy in your particular setting. If you have a culturally diverse workplace, you may have to navigate cultural differences. Some people may be offended by any type of physical touch while other coworkers might find it irritating if there wasn’t a hug or high five. Checking in with your colleagues to see if they are comfortable with physical connection is a good way to start.

Example: If you notice that a coworker had a particularly stressful day, offering a gentle touch on the shoulder along with an acknowledgement of the tough day can be a business appropriate expression. 

 

Love languages were developed for the psychotherapy world, but their core concepts have been adopted by the work world. They can be the building blocks for fostering better communication, strengthening connections, cultivating understanding between colleagues and building team cohesion. In turn, this can cultivate company cultures where everyone feels valued, understood and supported. 

 

Find your love language and how they can be applied in the business world at


Image credit: Getty Images

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