I recently finished reading through The Five Love Languages for Men by Dr. Gary Chapman. Dr. Chapman is a marriage and family therapist, and after 30 years supporting his clients in their relationships, he offers the following assertions: Every person has a primary mode of expressing love – a “love language.” Challenges in relationships arise when we don’t realize that we literally are speaking a different language from our partner. The solution, then, is to find ways to communicate in our partner’s love language. (Dr. Chapman offers five primary love languages, each with their own dialects: Words of Affirmation; Quality Time; Receiving Gifts; Acts of Service; and Physical Touch.)
I am finding that this concept has been helpful in thinking about how to acknowledge my staff for their hard work. We all have a basic need to be recognized for our contributions. And yet, managers get frustrated because they are communicating in their own love language, giving acknowledgments to their employees that employees don’t fully receive because the acknowledgment isn’t in their primary love language.
If we listen more closely to our coworkers, we can begin to hear what their primary love language is. We can get a better sense of how they wished to be recognized for their work.
And when we can acknowledge our coworkers the way they wish to be acknowledged, we are enhancing their job satisfaction without having to expend too much (if any) resource.