Incorporating the 5 Love Languages in the Workplace

Erin Sellberg
May 4, 2018 · 10 min read
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A concept that has gradually become more well-known over the past couple of years is the idea of the 5 Love Languages; which addresses ways in which to find fulfillment with your significant other and maintain a healthy relationship with the people around you. I chose to research this topic because I am intrigued with how and why people express different types of love. The fact of the matter is that every person is different and many people have different love languages (Chapman). We are the product of the family systems that we are born and raised in, and so most of us are exposed to and thus manifest the language fostered within us by our parents and our siblings (Chapman). Thus, “in the area of love, it is similar…Being sincere is not enough. We must be willing to learn another person’s primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love” (Chapman). In regards to feelings and emotions, it has been determined that there are approximately “five love languages/ways that people speak and understand emotional love. However, there may be numerous dialects. The number of ways to express love within a love language is limited by one’s imagination” (Chapman). The crucial concept to realize is that when you are attempting to appeal to, understand, or show your affection for another person, it is crucial to be able to speak that person’s love language, and recognize that the way that you grew up expressing love may be quite different compared to other people (Chapman). Next, I will be delving deeper into the five categories of love language.

First we have words of affirmation. “One way to express love emotionally is to use words that build you up. Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love. They are best expressed in simple, straightforward statements of affirmation” (Chapman). Along with verbal affirmation, a person can express what is called encouraging words to another person. “The word encourage means ‘to inspire courage’” (Chapman). Everyone has their insecurities, and so encouraging words can sometimes be all a person needs to feel reinforced to discover their capabilities (Chapman). Next, a way to express love is through the use of kind words, in the sense that the ways in which we speak and utilize our tone greatly matters in the ways that we convey messages to one another (Chapman). Often, “we interpret messages based on our tone of voice, and not the words that are actually being stated” (Chapman). In summary, this form of communication and expression of love utilizes words in order to affirm other people (The 5 Love Languages). Secondly, acts of service is another way to express how much you love someone (The 5 Love Languages). For people who identify the most with this love language, the way that a person acts and serves others resonates on a larger scale than words (The 5 Love Languages). Next, a common way that people give and receive love is through the act of gift giving (The 5 Love Languages). Basically, there are some people who respond the most positively when a person that they love gives them a gift; or the act of gift giving is the most heartfelt way that they can express their love and let a person know that they are thinking about them (The 5 Love Languages). The fourth way that many people express their love is through spending quality time with one another (The 5 Love Languages). “This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention” (The 5 Love Languages). And finally, many people express their love through the closeness of physical touch (The 5 Love Languages). “To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch (The 5 Love Languages).

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Next, I would like to address the complication of these love languages. For the most part, studies have mostly been conducted when it comes to discerning and interpreting how couples can navigate their relationships by educating themselves and utilizing the five love languages. However, what I became curious about was the correlation between the five love languages and how they can be utilized in the workplace in order to foster a more harmonious work environment and inspire and incentivize people in their various career paths. After conducting research, the complication that I have come across is the fact that people often express levels of satisfaction and love in different ways within the categories of the five love languages, so sometimes it can be difficult to maintain healthy relationships even if you are knowledgeable on these topics and work hard to cultivate a successful relationship. There have been many discussions regarding misunderstandings in the workplace among employers and their employees, to name one example. In addition, another complication that can emerge in the community of science is “how in the world love languages are related to the workplace” (Hassell)? Well, there are several different ways/triggers that get a person motivated to do a good job or strive for the highest level of achievement (Hassell). “Whether it’s a pat on the back, an award for a job well done, or some one-on-one time, we each have unique emotions attached to what makes us feel appreciated” (Hassell). So, when it comes to work, “our motivation is maximized when we receive our ideal form of praise, encouragement, or reward for our efforts” (Hassell). So similar to relationships (except for the concept of physical touch), each person is unique in the ways that they feel loved and valued, and thus how they try to make other people feel loved and valued, and this can translate in the same way when it comes to “work relationships” (Hassell).

If someone strives to start up a business or an organization, they have to take into account the livelihood of each person that they have working for them if they want their business to succeed (“The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace”). We don’t often think about all of the other factors that make a business tick, other than just plain hard work. However, in order “to empower an organization, you have to empower its people. To empower people, leaders have to demonstrate appreciation in ways that maximize the impact for each individual” (“The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace”). In addition, studies have shown that if a boss, manager, or employer can adequately foster and cultivate a positive, healthy, and happy work environment, “team members will seamlessly work together, be more productive, and more engaged, therefore helping the business or company as a whole” (Hassell). The fact of the matter is that employees and people who happen to be volunteers do a better job and perform at a higher level if they feel valued and appreciated (“Love Languages in the Workplace”). In addition, staff can learn to motivate and inspire each other as well. In addition, “when peers, teams, and colleagues support one another…everyone feels valued and appreciated, and people are able to perform at peak levels…creating a positive snowball in regards to changing the culture of the workplace” (Hassell). Next, I will talk about how the five love languages can be incorporated in the workplace.

Surprisingly enough, it is always nice to get recognized every once in a while for the hard work and dedication that you put into a task. In fact, it just so happens that positive atmospheres in the workplace and high productivity is determined by the level of appreciation that you show someone or that someone shows you (Duran). The problem arises when employers don’t really realize the importance of showing their gratitude to individual staff members, or the best ways to convey particular appreciation in the first place. Gary Chapman and Paul White came up with the book titled “The 5 Love Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” and were also able to come up with ways to incorporate how a person/employee can show appreciation for the people that they work with in order to create a supportive and pleasant environment (Duron). Here are some examples:

Words of affirmation: try to establish confidence in people by verbally affirming them. Some examples could include “thanks so much for your insight,” or “great job presenting at our meeting yesterday” (Duron). These types of phrases can serve to inspire and show appreciation for all of the tasks completed by people working for your business or company (Duron). You can often show this appreciation by talking to the person one-on-one, in front of a crowd of people, via email or note, or through public forms of social media (White).

Quality time: Sometimes people need to see that you are invested in them and the business that you are working for, so if you seek ways to plan events or spend time with them on a professional level at work or outside of work (i.e. work sports teams, workout clubs, book clubs, etc.), they will be grateful that you chose to talk about what they find interesting and what inspires them (Duron). It is important to show them that you care (Duron). You can demonstrate your appreciation for someone in this way by maybe taking someone out for a meal, stopping by their office or workspace and checking in, going for a walk during a lunch break, watching sports on the office TV, or calling someone to see how they are holding up (White).

Acts of Service: Even if you mean well by complimenting someone, sometimes all a co-worker really needs in order to feel valued and appreciated is help with finishing or collaborating on a project/task. Basically, some people feel more loved and appreciated if another person offers them their services or offers “to lend a hand” (Duron). You can ask the question, “What can I do to help?” in order to ensure that you are actually helping the person with what they need and not making matters worse (White).

Gift Giving: Many people enjoy receiving gifts, but it is also important to ensure that the person giving the gift to a co-worker gives a gift that “the person values in their life outside of work, like a jersey of their favorite college football team or a coffee mug with their favorite cartoon character on it” (Duron). The most common gift that could be given would be in the form of food, but sometimes it can also be helpful to give someone some time off when you take the time to gauge their needs (White).

Physical touch: This type of love language can be tricky to navigate, but in regards to appropriate physical touch in the workplace, “some members respond well to physical touch, like high-fives, handshakes, fist bumps and pats on the back. You’ll see this in sports, but it also translates well to the work environment” (Duron). You can also engage in “brief hugs (especially in emotional times),” but always be sure that that type of behavior is consensual (White).

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In regards to showing your appreciation for someone in the workplace, you must understand that in order to effectively foster a positive work environment, “these five languages have to be communicated regularly, genuinely and based on the language the receiver responds to positively. It’s not enough to wait until performance evaluation week to convey gratitude; neither does it work if there’s a catch every time you praise someone’s efforts” (Duron).

Some people may struggle to understand the fact that when you choose a profession, it often possesses similarities to a relationship with another person (The Muse). “Like it or not, your job is kind of like a romantic relationship. Your co-workers and clients see you at your best and your worst. You’ve made a commitment to spend every day with them. And, just like marriages, business relationships take work to make them last over time…The point is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to showing others that you care…This is also pretty invaluable advice when you’re trying to attract a new customer, strengthen a client relationship, or keep your co-workers happy” (The Muse).

The current problem in the workplace is the fact that many people do not feel loved, appreciated, or motivated to do their work, because they crave the love language that they have been raised to give and receive (The Muse). When someone doesn’t reciprocate in your love language, it can become very difficult for a person to feel appreciated or happy, even though that may not have been the intent of the other person (The Muse). That is why it is crucial moving forward for people to look into what motivates, stimulates, and makes other people feel appreciated; that way, you will be able to live and thrive in a positive work environment (The Muse). And all of that can begin if you begin to research and look into the five languages of appreciation in the workplace.

(Gary Chapman)
(Paul White)

Works Cited

Chapman, Gary. “The Heart of the 5 Love Languages.” Chicago, 2007 <https://books.google.com/bookshl=en&lr=&id=ppLwoOk5A8MC&oi=fnd&pg=PA3&dq=5+love+languages&ots=aZ3ljReGVY&sig=qw4Af4AA9jbMn_QZ6NxhxdVGnqM#v=onepage&q=5%20love%20languages&f=false>. Accessed 3 May 2018.

Chapman, Gary and Paul E. White. “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace:Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People.” NY Times, 1 September 2012, <https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=b7yTmijPYC4C&oi=fnd&pg=PT14&dq=5+love+languages+in+the+workplace&ots=S6ci4yeF0&sig=Jx8ky2tzJfBlEL8pbvn5J2CreG8#v=onepage&q=5%20love%20languages%20in%20the%20workplace&f=false>. Accessed 4 May 2018.

Duron, Maria Elena. “Applying Appreciation Language in the Workplace.” U.S. News, 3 April 2014, <https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2014/04/03/applying-appreciation-language-in-the-workplace>. Accessed 3 May 2018.

Hassell, David. “What the 5 Love Languages Can Teach Us About Job Satisfaction.” 15Five, 2018, <https://www.15five.com/blog/what-the-5-love-languages/>. Accessed 3 May 2018.

“The 5 Love Languages.” About Gary Chapman: Discover your Love Language, 2018, <http://www.5lovelanguages.com/>. Accessed 3 May 2018.

“The 5 Love Languages — Take the Test!” Collective Edition: Youtube, 21 December 2015, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKb1DBgsLno>. Accessed 4 May 2018.

The Muse. “The 5 Love Languages: Office Edition.” Forbes, 28 December 2011, <https://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2011/12/28/the-5-love-languages-office-edition/#62f0a7febad8>. Accessed 3 May 2018.

White, Paul. “Appreciation at Work: Overview — Ways to Show Appreciation at Work.” Youtube, 4 May 2018, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQE0Gu-dJGE>. Accessed 4 May 2018.

White, Paul and Gary Chapman. “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.” 4-H YouthFest 2013 Workshop by Victoria Schmidt and Libby Meyer, 2018 <https://www.extension.iastate.edu/4hfiles/StaffDocs4H/2013YouthFest/2013NovM3BRetainVol.pdf>. Accessed 3 May 2018.

    Erin Sellberg

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