At the root of many relationship misunderstandings is the use of different “love languages,” how you express love to another. For some, physical affection is their love language; for others, doing chores or buying gifts may be their way.
Consider your childhood. Most of us learned from our caregivers how love was expressed, and that became our love language, just as the verbal language we learned in our childhood home is our first language. How did your parents express affection to you? Did they frequently buy gifts? Did they praise you? Did they say those three words, “I love you”?
Relationship counselor Dr. Gary Chapman’s 1995 book, “The Five Love Languages” was an enormously popular resource that began the school of thought that there are five love languages: acts of service, gift giving, quality time, physical touch, and words of affirmation. Key to successful communication is to use the love language of the other person. Just as you would not speak in English to someone who speaks only French, if you want to express and experience love it is best to do so in the way the other person understands best.
Many partners have experienced hurt feelings when a heartfelt gesture is either ignored or misunderstood. The man who dedicates weekends to spending time with his family and tending his home may not feel his mate’s affection when he uses words to express his love. A woman who feels most loved with physical gestures like holding hands or soft caresses may not understand that her partner is expressing his/her love by giving her fresh flowers.
Your love language can also translate into how you express gratitude and appreciation to anyone, not just in a close relationship.
As an employer or team leader who shows appreciation with gifts, you may choose to host employee appreciation lunches, or offer a mid-year production bonus.
If you are someone who uses words of affirmation as your love language, you’re likely to positively comment on others’ work efforts, or personally thank them for their service.
If you express appreciation through “quality time,” you may personally meet with each staff member, or perhaps make the effort to stop by someone’s office with a genuine smile.
Think about how you express your feelings for the close relationships in your life, and make sure you are being understood.