The 5 'Love' Languages tool is a helpful way to ensure employees feel seen, heard, appreciated and valued.
“Speaking someone’s primary love language at work can build friendships and create a positive atmosphere in an environment that is often stressful.” – Dr. Gary Chapman
If you’ve ever heard of the famous 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman you may know that this neat little tool helps you connect to your loved ones better by knowing how you like to receive love and how you show your love. It reveals which love language you speak either through words of affirmation, having things done for you (acts of service) spending quality time with a loved one or being physical touched or receiving gifts. Couples and family therapist often refer to this tool to support a better way for loved ones to communicate.I once had a client tell me he was taking it down to the pub to ‘share with the boys’ so that they could be better husbands!
We are now seeing this tool pop up in the literature of workplace wellbeing as a helpful tool for employers to use to be able to show appreciation to their staff more authentically, to build a culture of care, to deliver meaningful feedback, for conflict resolution, to establish psychological safety, and to boost team performance.
And just to be really clear there is an important difference between the love languages of partners and that of employees in the workplace that are important to note. Physical touch in workplace setting is translated into creating a supportive presence that is read from body language, facial expressions, or eye-contact. Not Physical touch – unless appropriate, safe, and consensual.
Establishing the 5 Love Languages at work
How the 5 Love Languages apply to the Workplace – some examples:
Quality Time: Focused and undivided attention
- One-on-One time
- Meaningful activities
- Brainstorming sessions
- Meaning Feedback sessions
- Investing time to listen to ideas
- Time to discuss ‘non-work’ topics
Gifts: Tangible symbols that show thoughtfulness and effort
- Shouting a coffee
- Gift voucher
- Buying lunch
- Getting hot chips in the staffroom
- 3pm ‘pick-up’ desk delivery of delicious, sweet treats
- Throwing a project completion party
- giving a day off from work
Words of affirmation: Verbal compliments that reflect appreciation
- Saying Thank-you
- Expressing gratitude for efforts made
- Celebrating achievements
- Meeting staff ‘Shout-outs’
- Acknowledging all ideas
- Using emoji reactions
Physical Touch: Non-intimate Open body language that shows support
- Eye contact when talking
- Soft facial expressions when communicating
- Visiting in-person whenever possible
- Cameras on during video call
- Seating arrangement that is inclusive of all participants – no backs turned
- Consensual touch - Fist pump, high five, pat on the shoulder
Acts of Service: Altruistic acts that ease another’s dis-stress
- Cleaning the staff tearoom
- Covering a shift
- Taking on some of the workload
- Stepping into a support person role
- Becoming an accountability partner
The key to utilising the 5 Love Languages is to recognise how you best receive/express love, while learning to accept and show love in each language.
This does not always come naturally, but if you make an effort to understand and speak another’s love language, it can significantly improve a relationship in any context.
Take the time to figure out the primary love language of your colleagues and mentors. Here are some strategies for gathering this information:
- Observe expressions
- does the person always greet with a hug or a pat on the back (physical touch)?
- Do they consistently praise others (words of affirmation)?
- Do they offer to help with tasks (acts of service)?
- Notice complaints listen for comments such as,
- “I need a little help around here” (acts of service)
- “I wish I had something to remind me of this occasion” (gifts)
- “People are always on their phones and not making an effort to connect!” (quality time)
- Pay attention to requests
- asking for feedback on work or their outfit (words of affirmation)
- asking for a souvenir from your vacation (gifts)
- asking permission to give a hug (physical touch)
We’ve seen it work superbly when organisations use the start of the new year or new financial year to include the 5 languages Quiz as part of their organisational reconnection team building activities. If you want a quiz thats been prepared earlier .. click here
Some suggestions for this quiz could be
- What do you need right now?
- What really makes you feel appreciated at work?
- What qualities do you most admire in a co-worker?
Don’t forget to advocate for yourself! Tell your colleagues and mentors,“I’m motivated when…. (I hear that I’m doing a good job), (someone pays attention to what I have to say), etc.”
Understanding the Love Language of yourself and the people around you helps you be part of an office culture where everyone feels appreciated.
How will you build a culture of respect and connection using the 5 Love Languages tool?