Communicating is not always easy-going, says Mr. Obvious! I don’t know about you, but I like to learn simple communication tools that are profoundly impactful and easy to implement and maintain. To my absolute delight, I came across a book years ago written by Gary Chapman titled The 5 Love Languages. As a psychologist working with couples to overcome communication barriers and strengthen relationships, I found this little gem to be invaluable. Eventually Chapman went on to adapt his body of work to fit into business life and renamed it The 5 Languages of Appreciation.
The premise behind the book is that every person has a preferred language of how he or she would like to be communicated with and he identified five of them. He contends that while they all may be desirable there is one or possibly two that a person just cannot live without. It is imperative to know what your own language is so that you may let others close to you know. And, it is just as important to know the language of others close to you. Find out your love language by taking the Love Languages Quiz.
The 5 Love Languages Are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Acts of Service
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
Some people feel most loved and/or appreciated from spoken or written words. This person needs verbal confirmations for things she or he may have said or done. Examples of ways to speak this language would be to encourage, affirm, appreciate, empathize, and listen to understand. If you are a parent, children thrive on spoken or written words of encouragement. Write a note to tell them how proud you are of them and why. Pay attention to opportunities to say something meaningful or grateful or appreciative. I like to kid around and say that Mark Twain was probably a words guy because he wrote the famous quote:
Some people feel most loved and/or appreciated from one-on-one time you spend with them without distractions or interruptions, such as your cell phone, television, or Internet. There are abundant opportunities to speak this love language and share quality time with children from reading books together, cooking if they are old enough to handle some of the responsibilities, going for a bike ride, or watching a movie together. Carve out small sections of the day to be together just one-on-one. Chapman reminded us that you do not need to do this 24-7, 365 days of the year but you don’t want to drain the ‘emotional love tank’ dry. He likened the tank to the fuel tank in your vehicle, claiming that you don’t need to run to the gas station every time you take it out but if you empty it, you’re going nowhere!
ACTS OF SERVICE
Some people feel most loved and/or appreciated by having things done for them. Acts of service means doing things for the other person you know that she or he would like you to do. It means going out of your way to help alleviate their daily workload; you can assist with projects, make their favorite meal, perform a random act of kindness, or perform thoughtful personal care.
Some people feel most loved and/or appreciated by receiving a physical token of appreciation. A gift is something you can hold in your hand and know that someone had been thinking of you and you were remembered. Gifts are visual symbols of love and appreciation. Gifts can come in all shapes and sizes. They could be expensive or free — the cost will have little matter if this is your preferred language of communication. Gifts may be purchased, found, or made. You don’t need a special occasion to give a gift to the person whose primary love language is receiving gifts. In fact, giving thoughtful impulsive gifts to someone who really appreciates them can be fun and rewarding to the giver as well!
Some people feel most loved and/or appreciated through physical contact. Examples include hugging, holding hands while walking together, foot massages while watching television, and holding hands at the dinner table as a family as you say grace. More examples are:
- Pat the person’s back
- Cuddle on the couch
- Rub tense shoulders
- For the kids, snuggle during reading time
- Again, for the kids, have a secret handshake
- Even more for the kids, give a bear hug and don’t let go
- Touch her or his forearm when you speak
- Squeeze the person’s hand that you share an inside joke with
- Touch foreheads
So, there you have it – five easy ways to strengthen your relationships by learning and speaking the other person’s love language. Some folks I have worked with exercised their creativity and created cute little ‘love tanks’ for their refrigerators to give each other a visual reminder of how full the tank is and where there might be room for improvement. Consider integrating the languages into your life and relationships and be prepared for a life that can become even more fulfilling!
At H-A-P-P-Ē.Life we have created programs to support the continuous development of your psychological health and well-being. We are dedicated to helping you navigate life more fully and successfully through fun programs aimed at you and your child’s social, emotional, and mental health. The Mission I’m Possible series contains short videos designed to teach kids lessons about self-awareness and relationship development. They are enjoyable activities you can do together as a family that impart valuable skills. To sign up for the Mission I’m Possible series at no charge, click here.