Monday, October 19, 2009

How Your Love Language Can Help You Be a Better Communicator

**Photo attribution

During my college days, a good friend introduced me to the book "The Five Love Languages" by Dr. Gary Chapman. Dr. Chapman uses real life examples from more than 30 years of marriage counseling to explain the five languages people use to express love: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.

Now, I obviously wasn't married when I read this (I say obviously because I'm still not married), but it opened my eyes to not only the way I prefer to express and receive love, but also who I am as a communicator. I learned that my love language goes beyond communication with my significant other. It also applies to the way I communicate with everyone in my life.

I could relate to a few of the love languages throughout the course of the book, but the one I really identified with is Words of Affirmation. This means that aside from liking verbal compliments (c'mon, who doesn't like verbal compliments now and then!), I prefer to give and receive encouragement, call attention to progress, acknowledge successes and varying perspectives on any given topic and talk through problems to find a solution.

If we take the time to figure out how people prefer to communicate, we can build more substantial relationships. These five languages can also be applied to friends, family and clients. Physical touch could mean a friend/family member needs a hug to feel better when they are upset. A client may need quality time in person with you every week to feel like you truly value them as a partner and appreciate their business. A coworker may need you to vocalize how well he/she did on a project you worked on together in order to truly feel satisfied with the work.

Since I'm the type of person who prefers to receive words of affirmation, I also make a conscious effort to give this type of encouragement to others. Here are a few suggestions on how to impact this type of communicator:
  • Express gratitude and appreciation.
  • Be generous with compliments...but only if you mean them!
  • Talk through problems in person.
  • Highlight accomplishments and successes. However, be sensitive to personalities. If the person is easily embarrassed, shining the spotlight on that person in front of a large group is not the best idea.
  • Express how you feel about someone (in the appropriate setting of course). If you really admire someone, or think they are an awesome person who you love being around, tell them!
We'll all face communication challenges at various points in our life. Making an effort to accommodate to different communication preferences is an important part of the relationship-building process. A small effort can go a long way!


Sarah said...

Great post, Nikki. And great book. Gary Chapman created a "5 love languages for singles" that I read. It is so helpful in all relastionships- work, family, friends, personal.

My top is 'words of affirmiation' as well, followed by 'acts of service'. One of the reasons we get along so well :)

Meghann said...

I'm a PR student from Ohio and I subscribe to your blog through my Google reader. I, too, am words of affirmation and loved Chapman's book :) Thanks for connecting it to PR!

EstrellaBella10 said...

Sarah - That's definitely a good explanation for why we're so similar!

Meghann - Thanks so much for the comment...and for reading my blog!