What Is Your Workplace Love Language?
Love languages are individual preferences for receiving and expressing love. Though typically referred to in an intimate relationship context, love languages can be applied to professional relationships, too—with a couple of tweaks.
The five love languages are:
- Words of Affirmation – expressing kindness through words of praise or appreciation, such as inspirational quotes, compliments, or encouraging notes.
- Quality Time – providing undivided attention to show presence and focus on the individual.
- Receiving Gifts – offering thoughtful tokens of appreciation, such as a piece of jewelry or tickets to see a favorite artist.
- Acts of Service – completing time-consuming or burdensome tasks that help alleviate tension, such as taking out the trash, folding and putting away the laundry, or grocery shopping.
- Physical Touch – feeling love through an intimate act, such as holding hands, touching an arm, or a massage.
So why are we talking about love languages and how are they important to the workplace? Because like the application to your romantic relationships, love languages can translate to workplace relationships, such as preferences for communication, setting boundaries, and strengthening empathy and emotional intelligence. Understanding work love languages can lead to higher motivation, long-lasting connections, and job satisfaction, as well as boost esteem, cultivate a healthier and more inclusive workplace, and elevate retention.
Through recognizing and respecting workplace love languages, you’re able to not only treat others the way they would like to be treated, but it can also provide the following benefits:
- Encourage altruism: Just like in an intimate relationship, learning a coworker’s love language can help you focus on their needs before your own. In an optimal situation, they would learn yours as well so that both of you can express appreciation in a manner that is purposeful to the other.
- Foster empathy: The more you learn about your coworker, the more empathy you nurture towards them. Leaning into the love languages, you begin to understand what helps an individual feel valued.
- Protect boundaries: Opening a dialogue around expectations and preferences can help you form deeper connections, as well as understand and protect personal boundaries.
- Support individual growth: By focusing on being more selfless, you’re likely to experience personal growth. Leveraging workplace love languages that push you outside your comfort zone can also promote change and growth.
- Spread kindness in more impactful ways: When you start spreading kindness through understanding workplace love languages, relationships and interactions become impacted in more positive and influential ways.
Finding Your Workplace Love Language
Here's how we can adapt the five love languages to the workplace. We've also included a few ideas for each to help you get started!
1. Continuous Feedback and Mentorship
Like words of affirmation in a relationship, continuous feedback and mentorship can provide you the tools, support, and insights to learn more about yourself. Through personal revelation and guidance from a mentor, you’re likely going to set yourself up for greater success.
- Communicate that you prefer continuous feedback
- Set clear expectations and goals so your mentors can better assist you
- Seek out professional learning and development opportunities
2. Workplace Bonding
Quality time can be viewed in a professional environment as workplace bonding. Forming connections and learning about each other is at the crux of workplace bonding.
- Set up 1:1 meetings to chat about non-work-related topics
- Ping a coworker to ask about their new pet or weekend plans
- Plan a team activity, like a photo scavenger hunt or trivia
3. Thoughtful Gifts and Gestures
Who doesn’t love a thoughtful gift or gesture? If someone just celebrated a work anniversary, congratulate them with a handwritten note. It doesn’t always have to focus on professional milestones or triumphs – make sure to include personal life events and small wins, too! Just found out a coworker is having a baby? Perhaps offering to host a virtual baby shower could be exactly what they need – not to mention a friendly gesture for such a precious gift.
- Buy something to spruce up a coworker’s desk, like a succulent or a small art print with an inspirational quote
- Cater lunch from a popular restaurant in your area
- Create a virtual card (we like Kudoboard!) for a team member celebrating a milestone
From a difficult project with tight deadlines to experiencing a day where nothing goes according to plan, showing support through acts of service can be just what you need. Taking action can definitely be what someone needs to alleviate any stress, anxiety, or exhaustion they may be enduring.
- Check in with a coworker who may be struggling
- Jump in on a task you can offload from a teammate
- Grab an afternoon coffee or snack to give your coworker a friendly pick-me-up
5. Encouraging Touchpoints
While physical touch is a slippery HR slope to gamble with, encouraging touchpoints like a high-five or virtual kudos can convey an inspiring response to your coworker.
- Give a compliment on the way your coworker handled a situation or performed a task
- Spare a high-five for a team win
- Shout out a job well done in a team meeting or instant messaging channel
Take our quiz to discover your own workplace love language!
Sources: Career Contessa, The Skimm, Verywell Mind
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