In 1995, Gary Chapman published The Five Love Languages. The author asserts people express and receive love in one of five “languages,” including: words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gifts, and physical touch. Each person possesses a primary and secondary language.
Chapman goes on to say that people tend to express love in the ways they like to receive love. This can lead to misunderstandings among couples. With the best of intentions, a couple may be speaking two different languages, and miscommunication naturally follows.
I often recommend The Five Love Languages in premarital counseling. It’s a tool that can enable effective communication in a marriage.
I recently discovered Chapman wrote a variation on his bestseller designed for organizations. It is entitled The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. He notes that people often feel unappreciated where they work or volunteer. Little gestures can make a big difference.
Chapman explores four of the five love languages in the workplace. (He recognizes that physical touch might not be appropriate at the office!) Remember that effective communication means learning and practicing the recipient’s language of appreciation rather than your own.
Words of Affirmation: Recognize the effort of others and express your appreciation for the work they do. Be specific and timely in your words.
Quality Time: Make time to spend time with others. Invest your precious time and undivided attention into another’s life.
Acts of Service: Offer help in appropriate ways when a colleague is overwhelmed. Let the person define what would be most helpful, and then do it his or her way!
Gifts: A gift does not have to be big to be significant. A note, cup of coffee, gift card, or lunch can express more than a thousand words for some people.
I recently heard a mega-church pastor speak about appreciation. He encouraged leaders to consider an appropriate amount of appreciation, double it, and then add a little more before expressing it to others.
In one of his classic songs, James Taylor sang: “Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel.” Turns out appreciation works the same way.