I’m a fan of Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages. It is actually my standard gift for newly engaged couples and I've come to find it highly applicable to business settings as well. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it, as it will help you understand how important the expression of love is regardless of the relationship.
According to Chapman, we like to receive love in one of five formats: acts of service, physical touch, quality time, receiving gifts, and words of affirmation. Each one of us responds best to "our" type of love. I’ll be candid and share that my love languages are acts of service and physical touch. So, after a tough day managing a conference for one of our clients, a hug from my son makes all the difference for me.
But as we move through February, with its abundance of hearts, flowers, and candy reminding us of Valentine’s Day, I want to focus on this book through a more professional lens. Take a moment and consider the aforementioned love languages as a member of our Northern Virginia business community. More specifically, think of the people with whom you interact on a daily, monthly, or even quarterly basis. How can you professionally communicate with them using their love languages?
Perhaps your CFO’s love language is quality time. To improve your communications and strengthen your working relationship, you should check in with updates via regular phone calls or Skype meetings. She wants to hear from you even if there isn’t much to share. Traveling quarterly to meet with her in person would only strengthen this relationship.
Or perhaps your VP’s love language is receiving gifts. You want to be sure you recognize him with a thoughtful thank-you gift in a public venue. A gift card to a favorite restaurant may not cost much but could have long-term dividends. He may also emphasize performance gifts and thank-you gifts for team member achievements. Don’t fight it; if it’s important to him, it should be important to you.
Even during an intense strategic planning exercise, I see how identifying love languages would help. If the project leader’s love language is words of affirmation, then she’ll look for affirming words during the process. It will be important for her to hear from the rest of the team throughout the process affirming each step and decision. She won’t want to rush to a decision at the end without buy-in along the way. And she won’t want fake affirmations but true ones.
We’ve become accustomed to taking personality assessments such as the Myers-Briggs test to help us understand and better navigate our interactions with family, friends, and professional colleagues, but I hope you’ll consider love languages too. As we say “Happy Valentine’s Day,” take a moment to apply some of them at work — and at home, too.
This Member Blog Post courtesy of:
Amy B. Lotz, CAE
Senior Vice President & Chief of Staff, Association Solutions