The Power of Love: “Love Languages” in the Office

A team meeting

You’ve probably seen many online quizzes floating around. No, not the one that tells you which Hogwarts house you belong to, or the one that claims your answers make you a perfect fit for Idris Elba. We’re talking about the one that asks: “What’s Your Love Language?” With love in the air and half-priced chocolates just around the corner, we thought we’d answer that question in our own way.

Four coworkers having a meeting around a table.
We all show love and respect differently.

So, what is a love language? Love languages describe how we receive and give love to others—from our friends, family, partners, you name it. The love is there, but it looks a little different from person to person. Love languages include acts of service, gift-giving, physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation. Love languages were developed over 25 years ago by Dr. Gary Chapman and the concept is still popular to this day. Recognizing these patterns in ourselves and those around us can leave a lasting impact.

But what does this look like in the workplace? Love languages can apply to platonic and professional relationships as well. That “warm fuzzy feeling” looks more like a lasting impression or a positive, motivating experience. So how can you apply love languages to your workplace, whether you are on-site or remote?

A remote worker at their desk having a virtual meeting and taking notes.
Even when we’re remote, giving someone our time carries a lot of impact.

First, if you haven’t yet, give one of those love language quizzes a whirl, or simply take a minute to review the ones listed above and see which one applies to you the most.

Now that you’re familiar with love languages, let’s look at how you can apply them to your day-to-day routine at work.

· For an “acts of service” person, this can look like buying the team lunch or bringing in donuts. An act of service can also be running charity events or setting up a PPE station.

· For a “words of affirmation” person, this could be giving positive and insightful feedback on someone’s idea or contributions to a project.

· For someone who prefers “quality time”, this can be listening to coworkers and really learning about them, or getting the most out of a scheduled meeting. It can even be something as simple as asking: “How was your weekend?” or “What are you watching these days?”

· The generous “gift-giving” coworker may like sending memes between tasks, giving out gift cards around the holidays, or having a Dr. Scholl’s insert up their sleeve if they hear a coworker’s feet are hurting.

· The “physical touch” love language might manifest as respecting boundaries and social distancing, and washing and sanitizing hands thoroughly. In a safer setting, a good handshake can go a long way.

Two coworkers outside in masks giving each other a social distance elbow bump.
We are all connected and expressing that is so important, even if it looks a little different these days.

So as you head into Valentine’s Day weekend, open your mind to all the ways love can show up in the world—how others communicate love and how you can put more love out there. Try not to worry too much about your fluency in love languages—that comes with practice, time, and even personal insight. The more you know about yourself, the more you can give back to the world around you. At the end of the day, it’s all about the love.

A Rose By Any Other Name: The Leadership of Schitts Creek

schitts creek

Netflix darling Schitt$ Creek swept the recent Emmys, but it’s not the first time this series—which followed the misadventures of the displaced Rose family in small-town USA—has stolen hearts. Aside from its soft quirk and hard wit, what is it that brings people to this show?

If you don’t know the gist, here it is: the show centers on the Roses, a family from the 1% that through a series of unfortunate events and misplaced trust, find themselves living out of a motel in the rundown town of Schitt’s Creek.

The town starts adjusting to the new and exciting Roses, while the Roses start settling into a slower-paced, more casual environment. Over the course of the show, everyone starts to realize they are exactly where they need to be, and that their strengths (and hidden talents) are enriched by crossing each other’s paths. That really resonated with us at Alterity. The heart of our diversity training focuses on the experiences that bring all of us to our respective places at the table. Our various cultural, sexual, neural, and worldwide backgrounds shape who we are and how we interact with each other, but sometimes it can be hard to get out of our comfort zones.

WARNING: Here be spoilers!

Which is where Schitt$ Creek really shines. It is more than its “riches to rags” gimmick, as the town begins to transform the Roses and the Roses begin to transform the town. As the series progresses, you see a shift as they begin to organically accept—and even enjoy—their new home. The patriarch, Johnny, gets back in touch with his entrepreneurial roots as he helps the motel host salvage her business, to the point where he is even willing to pull double duty doing maintenance in the motel. His wife Moira, the flashy soap opera actress turned mom, reconnects with her first love—the stage—and revamps the local community theatre scene. Alexis, their socialite daughter, eventually sheds her phone and fake friends and discovers a knack for marketing that she uses to promote businesses around town. And David, the tetchily en vogue son, warms his way into his father’s footsteps and starts his own business.

At the same time, the Roses rub off on the town. The residents start to see the value of improving their local scene and government. For example, when David opens his apothecary, he rejuvenates a hitherto quiet downtown scene. While the town starts in an apprehensive, old-dog state of mind, they soon start leaning into all the new and invigorating ideas the Roses bring to the down-home table. In turn, the Roses begin to understand that there’s more to life than champagne wishes and caviar dreams, and learn what they are made of. That even though they seemingly lost everything, there was something that was always there, just waiting to be shared in the right place, with the right people, and at the right time.

What sort of town are you building? When we all bring our experiences and wandered miles to the employment stage, we can shine like Moira. Listening and finding the heartbeat of our workplace is like Johnny fixing up the motel, or Alexis creating her own career path. Knowing what we are made of and taking a chance to share it with those around us is a lot like David finally learning to open up to the town.

It can be scary to take a flying leap of faith from our comfort zones, whether you’re small-town or larger than life. Our Respectful Workplace Program will give you and your employees the tools needed to build something just as good as the main street through Schitt’s Creek.

Image credit: https://www.poptv.com/schittscreek/about