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

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.

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.

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.

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.