How do you show your regard for someone? You may tell them outright, do something nice for them or even give them a gift. However you choose to show it, it’s clear that we all prefer to demonstrate our love and appreciation in different ways.
Most people have a variety of relationships in their life: romantic, platonic and professional. The way you express your care may adapt in each of these connections, but it will still be based on your propensity towards one or two ‘love languages’. So, when it comes to work interactions, your love language may impact your relationships with colleagues without you even realising it.
What are love languages?
The theory of the five love languages has found a resurgence in recent times, after being conceived 30 years ago by Gary Chapman. He theorised that there are five main love languages: spending quality time together, giving and getting gifts, performing acts of service, supporting with words of affirmation and comforting with physical touch.
Although we each tend towards a couple of these as a way that we prefer to be shown care, part of Chapman’s concept included the idea that we use our own love language to demonstrate our affection for others, even if this isn’t their preferred method.
Knowing someone else’s love language can help you to show them fondness more effectively. Although you may prefer to be given a gift, this may not be how your colleague feels and it’s important to take this into account.
How can love languages be applied to work life?
Poster-printing specialist instantprint conducted a survey into the views of 2,000 UK employees on love languages to find out how the theory could be applied in the workplace.
It seemed that 33% of respondents who knew their love language preferred quality time and only 6% favoured receiving gifts. Words of affirmation also took nearly 20% of the vote in the group.
Conversely, over half of all respondents said they prefer private praise (words of affirmation), over a third preferred bonuses or incentives (gifts), and nearly a quarter said they like time to chat with co-workers (quality time). This would suggest that love languages in the workplace are similar but slightly different to those in personal relationships.
Gone are the days of simply sending a round-robin email with a short line of ambiguous thanks; today’s workers expect something more personal to keep them happy in their jobs in the long run. With so many of those surveyed wanting words of affirmation at work, telling your colleague in person that you’re grateful is the best way to get the message across sincerely.
Likewise, giving more meaningful gifts like bonuses or pay rises will further incentivise your employees. Be sure to also consider the team’s social calendar to address the significant contingent of people who prefer quality time.
Can we use this knowledge to increase work happiness?
Getting to know your coworkers’ love languages may also encourage more effective communication of gratitude around the office. Have professional posters printed and posted around the office with suggestions for each love language. This will remind employees to consider their colleagues’ preferences and will guide them through appropriate ways of demonstrating their appreciation. After all, physical touch may be a love language, but it’s not one for the office!
With a workforce that is considerate of each other and focused on appreciating contributions made, you’ll find morale and workplace satisfaction will be at an all-time high. Not only will this mean a better office environment, but output could increase as a consequence, with happy employees demonstrating around a 13% increase in productivity.
Apply the theory of love languages correctly to your workplace and you’re sure to see results.