Ever feel like you’re not appreciated? Or that you’re appreciating someone else but they don’t seem to notice? It may be that you are speaking in different languages.
Gary Chapman, in his beautiful book, The Five Love Languages, explains that we have different ways of giving and receiving love. In other words, we have different channels to show how we care. If we are operating under our own language, and our co-worker is operating under another, then the situation is ripe for feeling unappreciated or not valued.
The five love languages are:
(1) Words of Praise
(2) Quality Time
(3) Receiving Gifts
(4) Acts of Service
(5) Physical Touch
No one language is better than the other. We each have our own default language, or combination, or dialect.
For instance, my significant other shows me he loves me by mowing the lawn, or doing the dishes. But if I really want him to tell me how attractive he finds me in a new outfit, we are both at risk of feeling unappreciated.
Translated to a business setting, if one co-worker shows his appreciation by telling her what good work she’s doing, but all she wants is some extra research on the project, they also risk not appreciating each other.
Chapman suggests showing appreciation in the channel the other person wants to receive it. For example, in the business setting, he might send her an article on the topic she’s researching. She might acknowledge his hard work. It requires being willing to do it differently – and in their language. (Obviously with physical touch in a business setting, you would likely use another default language, so that there is no risk of being misinterpreted.)
For a team in conflict, knowing these languages can be useful towards understanding differences in communication. With one team, we looked at how they communicated with each other – and guessed at which languages were their likely default. From there, they could see where they might acknowledge each other, and how they might do so. Acknowledging each other’s differences – as subtle as it was – had an impact on the team’s overall morale.
If you had to guess, which language is yours? Or consider taking the assessment in the The Five Love Languages to learn more.