People enjoy being appreciated. But not everybody wants to be appreciated in the same way. And the idea of being appreciated is something that many people don’t understand or don’t want to understand.
Sometime ago my wife and i stumbled across the concept of the five love languages. The idea is that people feel loved in different ways. Some may feel more more connected through touch. Others by receiving gifts. Some through the time you spend with them. Another person may feel that the time you spend serving or giving them chances to serve are the way they feel most loved. Finally, a person may feel you love them through the words you say to them.
As I looked at how my wife and I feel loved and how our children respond to different things we do to try and show our love for them, the love language model has proven useful. As we recognize the different ways a person responds to these love languages we can find ways of expressing our love for an individual in their love language and not in our own.
Now, you may be thinking, “That’s nice, and I’m sure that could be useful in my family, but I don’t see how that can apply outside of family relationships.”
A person feels validated and appreciated in the same way they feel loved, and this is very applicable in any environment.
When we learn how a person feels loved, we can also use many of the same methods to show them we appreciate the work they do. Most of the time companies and managers get this wrong. They assume, wrongly, that most people feel appreciated by gifts. Money and things are well and good, but only if “gifts” is at the top of your love language list.
A more effective way to show appreciate for a person is to express appreciation to a person using multiple love languages. For example writing a note to a person would be words of affirmation but if we also include a gift certificate or we include a movie pass for two people then we are connecting on multiple levels. The note can express words of appreciation, the movie pass is a gift, but giving the person enough for two people and putting something in there about spending time with their significant other has just hit the quality time love language as well. That’s three love languages and it shows you care about what they have done and also shows you care about them having a good time outside of work as well.
Ultimately showing appreciation means connecting with people on a deeper level than just a pat on the back. When we do this our interactions with people become more and you win and they feel more inclined to help us with were in a bind and just as we would feel more inclined to help them when they’re in a bind. So, as you go about your day, look for how people feel appreciated and how you can best express that appreciation on multiple levels. You’ll find you will connect with people on a deeper level and feel more fulfilled yourself.
The image is “The Top 10 Ways to Improve Flickr” by Thomas Hawk. You can find it on flickr.