We all like to be understood. If you've ever lived overseas you'll know the challenge. I lived in Japan for a while teaching English, it was truly magical. Japanese culture is a unique and impressive meld of conservative and way out there. And their commitment to service and attention to detail are truly second to none.
I left a little piece of my heart there for sure.
When I first arrived I found it impossible to tune into the language. I'd no idea how I was going to understand it. Every syllable literally blew a fuse in ear.
As it turns out the intonation is quite similar to the Scottish dialect so it wasn't as hard to speak it as I'd first imagined. But it was the understanding and being understood that was most tricky.
Of course there's a language that doesn't use words and that's the language of the heart. It's amazing how you can get by and communicate through laughter and presence for example, and create connection below the verbal.
There's also the language of love. Actually five languages. When I first came across Gary Chapman's five love languages I was instantly taken by both the simplicity and exactness that we do communicate love in five different ways. These ways are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Physical Touch
- Quality Time
- Acts of Service
- Gift Giving
What's interesting about the love languages is that the language that makes us feel loved, is usually the one we use to express love. Where that can fall down is that we don't all speak the same love language. So we might consider ourselves as showing our love, but if we're not speaking in the other person's language they might be missing our message.
My love languages are acts of service and physical touch. My previous partner however was gift giving; boy could he buy a good present. But helping me with something practical or giving me a massage could make me feel more cherished than any Louis Vuitton wallet or Tiffany bracelet ever could.
Now you might think the love languages are only for romantic relationships. And before we go any further, I can't stress enough how mastering this concept will enrich your relationship in ways you never imagined. Because when human beings feel loved, we become more loving. We just can't help ourselves. You'll get back what you give ten fold, if you're talking the right language.
But we shouldn't just be saving this powerful form of communication for our personal relationships, we can also take into our professional ones.
Love languages can be used in the business world, with amazing results.
Universal love is a vibration that everyone responds to. More than just feeling loved, when someone speaks your language you feel heard, understood, respected and appreciated. You inspire trust and connection.
These are the building blocks of bringing out the very best in any person. Imagine then being able to tap into someone's love language and instantly create a bond of trust, respect and have someone feel like you really just get them.
Consider how that would impact your working relationships. Landing a large client, or keeping a current one happy for example. Understanding how a person gives and receives love is a powerful way to create synergy in relationships.
In my line of business having my clients feel more understood and that I get them, helps them to trust me and open up quicker. And the more they do both, the faster I can get them results.
So how do you gauge someone's language? Well, there's a little quiz that I'm sure your better half would happily take if it meant feeling more loved by you, but you can't exactly ask a potential client or even staff member, "So how do you feel loved, can you take this little test please?"
Firstly drop the idea that love languages are about romance.
If you're going to map this across and use it professionally you need to consider it purely from the perspective of understanding a person and helping them feel understood. It's all about collaboration and cooperation.
Pay close attention. Listen deeper, be more present to a person when connecting with them and quite quickly you'll discover how they express themselves. How they show others appreciation, respect etc., is the same way they like to be appreciated by others.
For example maybe you have a client who always makes a point of congratulating your work, and your efforts. They always notice that you go the extra mile and they let you know they appreciate you for it. You're likely dealing with someone whose primarily love language is words of affirmation. If you mirror back to them this language you'll see how responsive they are to it.
Now you're talking the same language.
Likewise if you're trying to impress someone with words of affirmation and that's NOT their language you're conveying a feeling that you just don't get them. They might even wish that you'd stop gushing, and shut up.
Another example might be a staff member who's always helpful. Always organising everyone, making sure everyone's meeds are met. This is acts of service in action. If you want to keep this person happy and feeling appreciated, and there's a tendency for those who use this language to end up feeling resentful because they give so much, then ensuring that you do something practical for them once in a while will keep inspiring them to be their best.
Perhaps the only exception to mapping across this model into the professional realm is physical touch. You'll be able to see who likes to shake hands, taps your shoulder etc., you can tell people who have a inclination towards the physical. However, respecting personal space in the professional arena trumps using physical touch as a means of communication, every time. Stay on the safe side, DON'T USE IT.
Creating synergy in our relationships is a game changer.
We all know that person who people are drawn to. Who effortlessly connects and makes us feel at ease, and just seems to really see us. I don't know about you but that person brings me to life. I want to be my best self. I want to do my best work.
Using the love languages is not about manipulating people, its about powerful communication and mutual appreciation. It's about wanting to connect with others at a deeper level, and its about giving back what you get to develop trust, respect and unbreakable bonds in all areas of life.
Because the business world really is no different. Sure we may have our masks on a little tighter, but beneath the surface, on the inside, we all want the same things. We all want to contribute, to feel significant, to be heard, understood and to have our efforts recognised. We want to be part of the team.