Did you know that everyone has a “love language”? It’s the way we prefer to express and receive love.
Psychologists and counselors use the term when referring to romantic relationships, but this same concept can be applied to work relationships also.
In the workplace, it’s called an “appreciation language”—the way one prefers to express and receive appreciation. It’s a great way to ensure that you’re showing gratitude in a manner that most impacts each specific employee.
There are five kinds from which to choose, according to Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White’s guidelines:
- Words of Affirmation
This language uses words (both oral and written) to affirm and encourage others. Some people prefer one-on-one communication, while others value being praised in front of others (but it is important to know that relatively few people like to receive public affirmation in front of a large group).
- Quality Time
Under this category, personal, focused time and attention with a supervisor is highly affirming. It could also include hanging out with coworkers, working together as a team on a project, or simply having someone take the time to listen to them.
- Acts of Service
This type of appreciation is about assisting in getting a task done. Helping a teammate catch up on work or working collaboratively on a project that would be difficult to do alone are all ways to demonstrate appreciation for their efforts.
- Tangible Gifts
This language is pretty self-explanatory. However, the key to an effective gift in the workplace is the thought, not the amount of money spent. Taking time to notice what a colleague enjoys and buying them a small related gift shows that you are getting to know them as a person.
- Appropriate Physical Touch
The keyword here is appropriate. These interactions occur spontaneously and in the context of celebration—a high-five, fist bump, slap on the back, or congratulatory handshake. To not touch one another at all often leads to a cold, impersonal environment for those in this category.
So, which language are you? And most importantly, what languages are most effective for each of your colleagues?
Knowing this could be the difference between a coworker feeling uniquely valued or just part of the crowd.