Years ago, at my first job, a guy named Matt gave me a shout-out across a crowded office space that meant more than he knew.
Find out why… and what the heck “spiderperson” means on today’s episode.
Thanks for listening to today’s episode. You can shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Humans are wired in pretty unique, amazing ways. One of those is the different ways in which we receive love. Find out why understanding your love language and the languages of your team members is so important. And find out more about the Five Love Languages at 5lovelanguages.com
We were made to be loved. Each one of us.
You. Me. Your family. Friends. Team members. The Amazon Prime driver. Even… the person who cut you off in traffic… that you “loved” with your horn and a hand signal.
Each one of us has been designed with a deep desire to be loved, appreciated, valued, needed and so much more.
I love the visual that I first heard about from my daughter’s school years ago.
They talked about being a bucket filler in the lives of others, pouring into their bucket as we loved them in various ways.
But have you ever wondered why some of your efforts to show love or appreciation might fall flat on one person but be gobbled up by another?
Or maybe you’ve experienced tension with a spouse or friend who has been trying to show you love… but you’re just not feeling it.
Years ago, I first heard about a concept that has been transformational in my life and in the lives of so many others.
It is the idea of love languages.
Now, I’m sure there have been variations of the concept dating back through history, but I love how Dr. Gary Chapman pulled it all together in his book The Five Love Languages.
After reading that book, it was like I saw everything in a totally different light. So much made sense about me, about others. About my wife and kids. Friends. Coworkers.
You see, Dr. Chapman explains that there are five fundamental ways that we give and receive love, and that we have a few primary love languages and then some that aren’t as pronounced. You can find out more at his website 5lovelanguages.com
Here are the five: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch.
The whole thing is actually pretty amazing when you start to dig into it. Almost like looking at a secret code with special lenses and seeing what you couldn’t see before… even though it was right in front of you.
For each of us, one or two of these will be the main ways that we receive or feel love best, whereas the others might not pack the same punch.
For example, I’m a big Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch guy. So, for me, words of genuine appreciation or praise (and I emphasize the word genuine here – I despise ata boys) go a long way to fill my bucket. Just below that would be physical touch. And that could be a hug, fist bump, an arm on the shoulder, etc.
But the other languages don’t carry as much weight. I love spending time with people I care about, I like when someone does something nice for me and I like getting gifts. But for whatever reason, none of those fill my bucket like the top two.
Then, there is the flip side – how we give love the best. Sometimes it’s the same languages that we like to receive. Other times it’s different. Think about which of those five really make you come alive when you’re wanting to show someone else you care about them. Maybe it’s writing a note of encouragement, doing something for them in secret, buying the perfect gift, just being with them or holding them.
The bottom line is that this is a huge concept to grasp and can transform your relationships at home, at work and elsewhere.
At work, once you understand better how your team members and coworkers receive love best, it not only helps you get to know them on a deeper level but it also helps you maximize your efforts to appreciate them using the languages that really resonate with each one.
So, a great place to start is for you to take the love language quiz at 5lovelanguages.com. It will give you an idea of what your top languages are and help you better understand yourself.
Then, you could try having some of your team members take one as well and discuss your findings.
I think you’ll find it pretty eye-opening and putting this new knowledge into practice can go a long way to helping hang on to quality people as well as create a culture that attracts new talent as well.
What if we are coming in 45 minutes late into the stories of those around us? What if we believed that there is more to them than we know?
That what has happened in their lives has shaped how they view the world, how they interact, their hopes and fears. If we approach our coworkers, family and friends with that mindset we can understand them better and more deeply, as well as being able to work better together and give them more of what they need.
Have you ever arrived late for a movie at a movie theater?
If you have, if it was less than fifteen minutes late, you probably were alright since you only missed the ads for upcoming movies. That’s just how it is these days.
But imagine coming in 45 minutes late to a movie. 45 minutes after the actual movie had started.
You’d be like “wait, who is this Frodo guy, why is he so short, and why doesn’t he just throw that ring in the river?” or “What made Darth so angry, why is breathing so heavy and why do I feel like he has some deep family issues?” or even “Wait, Matt Damon is stuck again somewhere in the universe and needs to be rescued? I think I’ve seen this before somewhere…”
You get the picture. So much is revealed in the beginning of a movie. Something tragic happens. Or there is a snapshot from a character’s past. Or a chance meeting takes place or a message is shared.
A good movie will still leave some things for you to figure out. But what is shared at the beginning often fills in a lot of the blanks of the story. If you miss it, you will be led to figure the story out on your own. You’ll draw conclusions about characters or their decisions. You’ll falsely assume things to be true or not based on your limited knowledge. And often you’ll be wrong.
With a movie there’s no major implications here, other than you peppering the people who are watching with you with all kinds of questions that would have been answered if you hadn’t been late!
But with people, it’s a much different story.
And yet this happens all the time we meet someone new.
Every time our paths cross another’s, we’re coming into their life 45 minutes late. And even if we’ve been friends forever, there are still details about their past that we may never know but that have shaped who they are.
It’s not that we need to know every detail of everyone we meet. But acknowledging that we’re coming in late to their story allows us to be aware that their past has in part made them into who they are now. And by past, this could even mean what happened this morning before they left for work.
When you think about those you rub shoulders with every day, whether your peers or team members, the more you can view them and their stories in this way, the more it can help you have more compassion and understanding as well as a vision for their potential as well.
Instead of jumping to conclusions about their behavior or how they missed the mark, consider asking them more about what led to that. If they feel that you are genuine and can trust you, you can begin to fill in more blanks of the story. And THAT is when you can begin to make a deeper connection, see how you can help them and what they need from you to perform at their best.
All you need to remember is this one phrase: “I don’t know their whole story”.
This doesn’t mean that even after you dig deeper and try to help them that they might not still make bad decisions or refuse to do things that are needed to get where you need them to be. Tough decisions and conversations are still bound to happen.
But you have a better chance to connect with and hang onto those teammates who are the types of people you want in your organization.
That person who perhaps is on your mind as you listen to this? Why not take some time this week to reach out to them, dig deeper and let them fill in more of their story to you.
As for Frodo and the ring, don’t worry. You’ll fill in all those blanks you missed if you’ve got another 8 hours on your hands. Matt Damon though? Might have to just let that guy go…