Yup, Valentine’s Day is this weekend, but what has it got to do with your workplace? Everything. (Ok, I’m not hinting about dating someone in the office, but if that’s your thing, hey, at least you save on fuel, parking and toll, right?)
Renown relationship counsellor Dr. Gary Chapman, in his #1 New York Times bestseller The 5 Love Languages talk about the five different ways each of us demonstrate love, and in return, like to be loved. You can try the free online assessment here.
I realised it is also applicable to work, because it’s just not how we are being loved, but it’s also how we’re being appreciated.
Let’s go through the five languages of love/appreciation based on the book, and perhaps you’ll find a few new ways on how to communicate and work more effectively with your colleagues.
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
These are the people who like to receive praise and be recognised verbally. They are sensitive to the words you use to communicate with them, and sometimes a word of encouragement on a moody Monday morning can keep them up for the whole week! If they have done a good job, give them a compliment in writing (leave a post-it note on their monitor screen) or even better, congratulate them in front of their loved ones.
ACTS OF SERVICE
We get overwhelmed at the office easily, with never ending emails and piles of paperwork. Someone who’s love language is Acts of Service finds appreciation when you do things for them, even the little ones like making copies of documents, refilling their coffee, or running an errand for them. No, it’s not about being a doormat, minion or slave to them, but when you do those little gestures, they appreciate you a lot, and it helps in building the working relationship and your daily communication with them.
These people are quite easy to spot. When they come back from a holiday, they often bring gifts. Why? Because they like receiving them! (Oh yeah, you tend to demonstrate your love language to others, because you treat others how you like to be treated) Without going overboard, these colleagues and bosses feel appreciated when you give them a gift, especially when they don’t expect it, and don’t be surprised they decorate their workplace with it. That’s a bonus because they are reminded of your gesture every time they look at it!
Time is precious, but for the people with this love language, spending time with them means you appreciate them. It can be going to lunch together, or you can borrow from the late Steve Jobs’ iconic long walks, but when you give them your undivided attention, they will feel they meant something more. Put your phone on silent, or even if you have to pick the call, say that you’re in the middle of something and go back to your conversation. Yup, even a carpool to a client’s meeting can be quality time too.
Barring any touches that will lead to a sexual harassment suit, a pat on the back, a hand-shake, or even a “fist-bump” scores points of appreciation to those with this love language. They are often the ones who initiates hugs too, and I find having worked with people from all over, it’s always best for you to return a hug than to start one. A good gesture I often see among influential individuals is during a handshake, they use their other free hand to grab the lower part of the arm. It’s a sign of respect, friendliness, and if it so happens that the person’s love language is Physical Touch, it’s +1 for you!
Yes, as you can see, feeling appreciated at the workplace requires only small gestures and words here and there, and once the person likes you, it makes communication so much easier. If you like these kinds of practical tips on how you can communicate and build better relationships at work, sign up for Richard La Faber’s Power Communications workshop happening in March! You can get more of the details here.