I know what you are thinking “Delpha, really? Love languages at work?” Yes, really. Our use of language tends to separate how we feel about work. We use words like passion, drive, engagement, collaboration, etc. to talk about our state of being or actions at work. I would propose to you that we are human, our feelings don’t get new names when we go to work and therefore looking at work through the lenses of the 5 love languages makes sense.
If you don’t know the 5 love languages, I highly encourage you to read or audio book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It’s a great, easy read with a quiz to identify your love languages and that of your friends, significant others and family. Here is the gist of it. There are 5 love languages that humans use to express love: Acts of Service; Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. At work, these play a role in how we show appreciation or see all those work words I listed above in our co-workers, employees and associates. Here is an example:
Words of Affirmation: This is my primary love language. For me, it is most important to be told that I am valued by my employer. My employer, like many others, is an entity (yes, since humans run the company you need to assume that as a group, the company has feelings too) who’s primary love language is receiving gifts which means that when they decide on raises, bonuses, etc. they are actually using their love language to express how they value you. If your are like me you are going to look at this and say “Great! But what about my words of affirmation- can you say you like me versus showing me?” If you take a step back and acknowledge that your employer may not be a words of affirmation then it makes sense that you may not see/hear these words often but you may be shown “the love” through rewards and recognition, compensation and in ways that the company, as an entity, expresses its appreciation.
The above example also applies to your boss. Recently I was speaking with a friend who struggles with her boss. He wants to see “commitment” to the work in the form of staying late. My friend and I took a step back and looked at this from the love language point of view. Her boss is an acts of service person. To him, showing “commitment” is through acts of service like staying late at work. It’s an act of service because you don’t have to do that but you are “showing the love” when you do more. This changes the way she would discuss this topic with him. She may not stay late to show “commitment” but she can show it through her current actions: helping others in the team, supporting others in meetings, etc. This way he can see that she is engaged in acts of service versus just focusing on the staying late part.
I encourage all of you to start thinking about your work relationships this way. It creates clarity around those pesky corporate speak words that all mean the same thing: Do you care/love your work and the people there and how are you showing it.
So, what’s your love language? Are you using it at work?