Why "The 5 Love Languages®" Matter in the Workplace

For managers, telling your staff "thank you" so they hear you is more of a challenge than you think.

I've noticed I've talked to clients a lot lately about the Five Love Languages. If you've never heard about it I'd love to tell you more.

The original book was written by Gary Chapman in 2009 for married couples to help them show each other how much they love them. He claimed: "By learning the five love languages, you and your spouse will discover your unique love languages and learn practical steps in truly loving each other."

I remember reading the book back then and it actually was very interesting and helped me in my close relationships with my kids and extended family. 

Take the same theory and apply it to the workplace and it gets very interesting. Chapman realized this and released The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People in 2012 and I use it's tools with many of my clients.

The theory is that we all have unique ways we feel appreciated. Chapman says there are 5 ways we can show someone we appreciate the work they do.

  1. Words of Affirmation - When we tell our teams and individuals they are doing a great job. Using our words to affirm their performance.

  2. Acts of Service - When actions speak louder than words. Doing something to make your team see you serve them in some way.

  3. Gifts - For some people receiving a small (or large) gift can make them feel wonderful. A coffee or card can brighten their day.

  4. Quality Time - Some people require your undivided attention in order to feel recognized for what they do. Making regular time to sit with them is important.

  5. Physical Touch - To these people they need appropriate touch. (i.e.: pats on the back, a hand shake, sometimes a hug depending on the environment and comfort levels)

For many of us as leaders we simply say "good job" or buy them lunch occasionally. We read about recognition games and icebreakers we can play at meetings; however, we may be missing the mark. I hear, time after time, that staff do not feel appreciated for what they do. I also hear managers say "I don't know what else to try, I tell them all the time that I appreciate them". Why are the wires crossing?

Well, often we give what we want ourselves. If you are someone who likes gifts you may always provide gifts to your teams. Surprise cupcakes at team meetings, birthday gatherings etc...these are all things that only people who like Gifts as an act of recognition would appreciate. The rest of the team may think "wow, this is a waste of money and my time, I have too much to do and don't care about cupcakes". If I'm someone who needs a hug from time to time cupcakes will leave me feeling empty and worthless in my role.

We have to stop thinking that people want what we would like and get to know each of their individual tastes and preferences.

Taking the time to find out what your team members and colleagues appreciate will increase positive culture in your organization. There are fun activities you can play and assessments you can do to find out who has what preference.

For more information you can contact me for an incredibly fun team meeting on the topic or you can seek more information on your own here:  http://www.appreciationatwork.com

Have fun and make sure you acknowledge someone for what they've done at work today!