For over twenty years as an agricultural recruiter, I have studied the similarities between a successful marriage and a successful employment situation.  The parallels are fascinating.  In both types of relationships, getting to know the other person, maintaining excellent communication, and understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses all play a key role.  Listening, understanding where the other person is coming from, and dealing with frustrations and disagreements that arise are also critical at both work and at home with your spouse, or even for your children.

In the employment world, we often use tools that help break down a person’s personality profile.  From that assessment, we can learn to better understand how to communicate successfully with someone.  We can learn their personality strengths and weaknesses as well as their highly developed and not so developed skills.  We can learn what to ask them to do and what is probably best to avoid asking of them.  Even their true motivators, or their “why”, can be discovered quite clearly from a seemingly simple 30-minute assessment.

On the marriage and personal relationship side, Dr. Gary Chapman, through his many years of marriage counseling, has developed a fascinating way of defining exactly what motivates an individual.  His book, “The Five Love Languages” is a powerful tool to help engaged or married couples get to know what makes each other tick, or as he says, “what fills up your love tank.”  However, these same languages, or factors, can be very useful and quite impacting in understanding young children, teenagers, or literally any other person with whom you interact on a regular basis.  The five “love languages” are:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

Dr. Chapman shares that every man, woman and child have a primary love language that we must understand and learn to speak with them if we want them to feel valued and loved.  For example, if a person’s primary love language is Words of Affirmation, you can literally kill their spirit or give them life by the words you say, or do not say, to them.  For example, if in the workplace every time a sales professional reaches a sales goal, their manager says nothing but instead mails them a gift card to their favorite store, they probably do not get too excited about it.  But a personal conversation or phone call with words of heartfelt thanks and appreciation for a job well done will mean the world to that person and motivate them to strive for continued excellence.

Likewise, for a person whose love language is Acts of Service, actions truly speak louder than words.  Constantly telling them what a great job they are doing, how much you appreciate them, or even giving them gifts of appreciation will ring hollow in their ears.  But offering to help clean up after a meal or a meeting, washing their vehicle, helping them with a difficult task, or pitching in and doing something for them will be greatly appreciated.

Or consider what happens when you come home from a business trip and bring your grandkids new toys and trinkets, but their response is less than thrilled?  Most likely, their primary love language is not Gifts.  It may well be Quality Time, and therefore all they really want is for you to give them your undivided attention by spending some uninterrupted one on one time with them.

Whether thinking about the impact of “The Five Love Languages” in the workplace, a marriage, or in dealing with children, it is valuable to learn what makes a person feel respected, appreciated, and loved.  Simply start with the attitude, “I want to enrich and enhance the lives of the people around me.”  Consider challenging your family, your co-workers you interact with regularly, or a group of friends to join you in taking “The Five Love Languages Quiz”.  Then, you can discuss it together and get to know what makes the people you know feel the most valued.  Having a better understanding of each other will strengthen your relationships and perhaps resolve tensions that have built up over time.

To get started, click on Dr. Gary Chapman’s website, and then click on “Quizzes”.  You may also listen to Dr. Chapman through a variety of broadcast topics found at:  Utilizing these tools can positively impact your workplace and your family for many years to come.