As human beings, we have a natural desire to be known. We want to have people that truly know and love the real us – and we probably want to be that person for someone else, too. Work can be a place where many people don’t feel known. In a remote world, work can especially feel isolating.
Gary Chapman identified the 5 love languages: particular ways that we love to give and receive love. And the love languages aren’t just for romantic relationships! You can use the love languages at work to build better relationships with your co-workers. Start by taking the quiz to identify your love language or just read on and see which you relate to the most.
1. Quality Time
It can be easy to spend the whole day heads-down at work. I often forget to slow down and nurture relationships at work. Quality time is my top love language, so I need to spend time with someone before we can truly connect.
Action Item: Set up a 30-minute chat
This could be a coffee date, a remote chat, or a quick walk. The point is to meet with someone to get to know them, not just what they do. Set aside 30 minutes: 15 minutes to chat about work and 15 minutes to chat about life. Have a few questions prepared and watch a connection grow.
Consider setting up the chat with someone you think you have nothing in common with. Who knows, maybe a new friendship will form!
2. Physical Touch
Since the pandemic, in-person interactions are harder to come by at work. If physical touch if your love language, you know that nothing beats seeing a face or spending time in person. When I finally met some remote employees in person, our relationship transformed from talking solely about work to a true friendship.
Action Item: Prioritize human connection at work
If you have the option to go into the office, go. Tell some co-workers that you’re going and ask them if they want to join you. You can even plan a happy hour or dinner after work to make it more fun. If you’re remote, turn your camera on and ask co-workers if they’re willing to do the same. Seeing your co-workers smile, even over Zoom, can be life-giving.
Everyone loves a good gift and, in my opinion, the best gifts are the ones that you’re not expecting. No one expects gifts at work, so if gift-giving is your love language, this is the perfect opportunity for you!
Action Item: Surprise a co-worker with a small gift at work
This could be anything, but one tip is to make the gift either delicious (literally) or thoughtful. Everyone loves a good snack at work, so bring in donuts, lunch, or a new favorite dip you made to brighten everyone’s day. Putting a personal touch on your gifts makes them even more special. Remember a co-worker’s birthday or promotion and celebrate it! Bring them a card and pass it around all day (physically or virtually) to get co-worker’s signatures. There is nothing better than receiving a small act of thoughtfulness.
4. Acts of Service
We think we’re busy (and we probably are!), but some of our co-workers might be drowning silently in the amount of work or personal tasks they have on their plate. They might also be afraid to ask for help or don’t think they need it. If your love language is acts of service, though, this is your chance to step in.
Action Item: Proactively serve a co-worker or manager
If you see a co-worker or your manager struggling, find something you can do to relieve some stress at work. This could be writing the status report for them, taking notes so they don’t have to, or drafting an email they need to send. Ask them what they need and insist that you have the time to help (as long as you do, of course).
If you’re at the top and don’t have a manager, think about something you could do to serve your people, given what you already have on your plate. Maybe they would appreciate a nice dinner or a few hours off on Friday. Notice what your people need and do what you can to fulfill that.
5. Words of Affirmation
If your love language is words of affirmation, then you know how much positive, life-giving words can impact people. Think about someone at work who just rocks, and tell them!
Action Item: Give a shout-out
Do you ever have moments where you think, “Wow, Sarah is just the best!” Well, did you tell Sarah that? How will she know that she’s the best if you don’t tell her? Message her, tell her in person, or recognize her in front of your team. Don’t keep your appreciation to yourself!
At work, I’ve encountered many people who don’t believe in themselves or who think they’re unlovable, unworthy, or a lost cause. As a Catholic, I know that these unique individuals are loved and cared for by God, but not all of my co-workers know this or remember this about themselves!
When I think about how I can help, I remember Mother Teresa’s saying:
“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
Love is a big word, but love can start small. And love at work is important. It is needed. It is wanted.