While the love languages were originally developed for use in romantic relationships, some of the concepts can also be applied to business and coworker relationships.
The concept of “love languages” was developed by relationship counselor and author Gary Chapman. It’s a way of understanding how people express and experience love. Chapman identified five different love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. For example, if one of your coworkers feels most valued with words of affirmation, they might appreciate it if you regularly give them positive feedback and encourage them in their work. On the other hand, if they are more jazzed by receiving gifts, they might appreciate it if you give them small presents or tokens of appreciation.
In this post, we’re omitting physical touch for obvious reasons (duh!). And we’re diving into how words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, and quality time can be explored within a workplace environment.
Love Languages in the Workplace
In a business setting, understanding and speaking your coworkers’ love languages can help to create a more positive and harmonious work environment. It can also help to improve communication and build stronger relationships with your coworkers. However, it’s important to remember that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s always a good idea to ask your coworkers directly about their preferences and needs, and to be open to learning and adjusting your approach as needed.
Asking a coworker about their love language can be a good way to improve communication and build stronger relationships in the workplace. But, it might be weird to go up to a coworker and ask “hey, what’s your love language?” We recommend omitting the word “love.” Here are some ways you can approach the topic instead:
How do you like to receive appreciation for when you do good work?
How do you prefer to receive feedback on your work? (email, one-on-one, etc)
What do you do for self care when you’ve had a stressful day?
Setting Parameters for This Topic.
Choose the right time and place.
Look for an opportunity to have a private and casual conversation with your coworker, rather than bringing it up in a formal or high-pressure setting. If you have a one-on-one or a check-in call, that would be a good time to inquire.
Explain your intentions.
Let your coworker know that you are interested in understanding how they best receive appreciation and support, and that you want to find ways to better communicate and work with them.
Be respectful and non-judgmental.
It’s important to approach the conversation with an open and curious mindset, and to avoid making assumptions or expressing any negative judgments about your coworker’s preferences.
Be prepared for a range of responses.
Some coworkers may be happy to share this info, while others may be more reserved or hesitant. Be prepared to respect your coworker’s boundaries and to have a more general conversation if they prefer.
Approach the topic virtually.
If the option to have a one-on-one is not available, or if you’ve got a large team, create a Google Form with some preset questions for getting to know your team, and include multiple choice responses to help lead the conversation. For example, we have this as part of our onboarding process. In addition to how they like to receive feedback, we ask questions about kids, pets, and plants. We also ask about a life experience that shaped them, and which superhero they identify with most. Having these answers on hand has helped us to really connect with our team.
Overall, it’s important to remember that every person is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s always a good idea to be respectful, open, and mindful of your coworkers’ needs and preferences.
Words of Affirmation
For this love language, your coworkers or clients may feel especially valued and motivated when you give them positive feedback, encouragement, or compliments.
Here are a few ways that you can use words of affirmation in a business environment:
- Give specific and sincere compliments.
Rather than just saying “good job,” try to be specific about what you appreciate about your coworker or client’s work. For example, you might say “I really appreciate the effort you put into that presentation. Your attention to detail really paid off.”
- Use positive language.
Try to use positive words and phrases when communicating with your coworkers or clients. Instead of saying “that’s not really what I had in mind,” try saying “I really like your idea, but what if we tried X instead?”
- Show appreciation.
Let your coworkers or clients know that you value their contributions and appreciate their hard work. You might say something like “I really appreciate your dedication to this project. Your contributions have made a big difference.”
Acts of Service
Here are a few ways that you can use acts of service in a business environment:
Offer to help with tasks.
Look for opportunities to help your coworkers or clients with tasks or projects that they are working on. This could be as simple as offering to cover their shift or helping them with a task that they are struggling with.
Anticipate their needs.
Try to anticipate your coworkers’ or clients’ needs and do what you can to make their lives easier. For example, you might offer to pick up their dry cleaning or run errands for them.
Show your appreciation.
Let your coworkers or clients know that you value their contributions and appreciate their hard work. You might do this by offering to do things for them, such as making them a cup of coffee or bringing them lunch.
Here are a few ways that you can use receiving gifts in a business environment:
Give small gifts or tokens of appreciation.
Look for opportunities to give your coworkers or clients small gifts or tokens of appreciation. This could be something as simple as a handwritten note of thanks, a small gift card, or a small item that you know they will appreciate.
Celebrate special occasions.
Show your appreciation for your coworkers or clients by giving them a gift on special occasions such as their birthdays or work anniversaries.
Consider giving your coworkers or clients a gift to recognize their achievements or contributions to the company. This could be something as simple as a small trophy or plaque.
Here are a few ways that you can use quality time in a business environment:
Schedule one-on-one meetings.
Look for opportunities to schedule one-on-one meetings with your coworkers or clients. This can be a good way to give them your undivided attention and show that you value their contributions and ideas.
Invite them to social events.
Consider inviting your coworkers or clients to social events or activities outside of work. This can be a good way to build stronger relationships and show that you value their company.
Take breaks together.
Look for opportunities to take breaks together, such as going for a walk or having a cup of coffee together. This can be a good way to spend quality time together and build stronger connections.
We’re pretty big on showing gratitude at work. Fortunately, there are a ton of appreciation services at various price points already out there. Once you know what’s important to your colleagues, you can set the wheels in motion. Here are some of our favorites:
- Snack Magic – Our friends over at Pixel use Snack Magic to let their team members select their own snacks for the quarter. They provide a pre-set budget for each team member. With Snack Magic you can let your team select whatever they want instead of just assuming. They’re also flexible around things like food allergies and personal preferences.
- Kudos – Our friends at JumpStartHR use Kudos in Slack to quickly and easily send kudos to team members. Kudos is the online employee engagement and culture platform that embraces the power of social software. It helps organizations share meaningful value-based recognition to create an irresistible workplace culture.
- Greetabl – This is one of our favorite platforms to send a quick kudos to a team member, or to congratulate a client for a website launch. Greetabl has small, customizable boxes, where you can include a small token of appreciation along with a message. You pick the design printed on the box, and can add photos (or client logos!) as part of the process. It’s an easy way to show appreciation and takes less than 5 minutes to send.
- Gratify – We use this platform to send cards to our team members on their birthdays and work anniversaries. Gratify sends handwritten notes to our team members with messages that we preset. The best part is that once we set it up, it runs on autopilot! That’s right, no more post-it notes about birthdays. And because we’re operating virtually these days, it’s nice for our team members to get a tangible item in the mail.
It’s important to remember that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s always a good idea to ask your coworkers or clients directly about their preferences and needs, and to be open to learning and adjusting your approach as needed. Here are some easy ideas for how you can show more appreciation at work.
A note about Gary Chapman
Gary Chapman is an American author and relationship counselor who is best known for his book “The Five Love Languages.” This book has sold over 12 million copies worldwide. Chapman is widely respected and has been influential in the field of relationship counseling. However, some of his views and beliefs have been the subject of criticism and controversy.
For example, Chapman has been criticized for his views on homosexuality and same-sex relationships, which he has stated are not in line with his understanding of biblical teachings. Some have also taken issue with Chapman’s views on gender roles and his emphasis on traditional gender roles in relationships.
It’s important to note that Chapman’s views are his own, and that they do not necessarily reflect the views of all relationship counselors or therapists. While some people may find his ideas helpful and insightful, others may not agree with his perspective. As with any author or speaker, it’s important to consider the source and to evaluate the ideas being presented in light of your own experiences and beliefs.