As I sit here in Melbourne, Australia we have had more than 200 days of lockdown in the last 18 months, with more to come. Every day we talk to managers, leaders and our coachees about what is going on for them in work, business and life, and we know that many are struggling under these circumstances. There is also so much going on in the world in addition to COVID-19 that is creating feelings of fear, sadness and uncertainty.
It is evident that we could all do with a little extra kindness and appreciation in our lives – to ourselves, for ourselves, to others and for others.
Kindness and appreciation are given and received in many different ways. You might have heard of the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. He has also written, with Paul White, the follow-up book The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. These books describe five ‘languages’ that apply to how we give and how we share our feelings, as outlined below.
For many people their primary love language is the giving and receiving of gifts. They spend time thinking about the perfect gift for their loved ones and they expect loved ones do to the same for them. They would never give a general gift card or cash, and they would feel devastated if anyone gave them a generic gift or forgot a birthday or other important occasion.
For colleagues whose love language is gifts, send a hamper, a gift card for their favourite masseur or restaurant, or just something small that you know they’ll love. Gifts can also be opportunities for growth, such as learning and development opportunities, exciting new projects, a coach, a mentor or a book.
These people always spend the time to get the right gift for you, so make sure you get a personalised and special gift for them.
2. Kind words
People whose love language is kind words are extremely communicative. They are the first to say thank you, to give a compliment, and to notice and acknowledge something you have done well. These people are always there to support you when you need extra encouragement. For some, their preferred form of kind words is private – for example, a simple thank you between two people. Others prefer a little more fanfare, such as a public acknowledgement or award.
For colleagues whose love language is kind words, take time out of your day to just check in and say hi, thank you or well done. Maybe send a card, text or email. If you notice something they have achieved, congratulate and acknowledge them. Talking is best but any form acknowledgement is always better than none.
3. Acts of service
These people are doers. They may not say much but you will know how much they care by their actions. They will bring you a cup of tea or coffee when you are having a stressful day, help you at work when you are up against a deadline, or bring you chicken soup when you are sick.
For colleagues whose love language is acts of service, do something to help and to acknowledge them. This is a little harder under lockdown than in a face-to-face environment, but could include sending a meal or massage voucher for their favourite place. You could give them a day off, let them just ‘chill’ for a while, take that report off their hands, or clear a business obstacle for them.
4. Quality time
These people just want to know that you want to spend time with them and that you are present. They relish undivided attention and doing things together. In our personal lives, quality time can include activities such as watching a movie together, playing games, going for a walk or going out to dinner. At work, such time can be spent having lunch together, at a team-bonding event, or even on a phone call where you focus entirely on the other person and are truly present.
For colleagues whose love language is quality time, allow additional time in meetings or phone calls just to talk to them and be present. Discuss what you will be able to do together as a team or explore activities you could do together virtually. Create space and time to laugh and connect with your team members.
Touch is an easy one in our personal lives – a hug, a kiss or a playful tap can make friends and family members smile – but not so easy in the workplace.
For colleagues whose love language is touch, this doesn’t have to mean physical touch in a workplace context. Physical touch can be replaced by a nod, a smile or a high five. It can also involve increasing the number of touch points or check-in points throughout the day. For example, try touching base with these colleagues during the day, have a five-minute group huddle in the morning, or share a joke on the group chat.
Over the next few weeks as you connect with colleagues, friends and family, think about how you can show your appreciation, kindness and even love. And speak to them in the way they want and need to be spoken to, not necessarily the way you like to be spoken to.
If you are a leader or manager and would like to find out more about how our Peeplcoach programs and group webinars are supporting individuals, teams and organisations be more productive, please contact us.