“Would you rather me 1) give you a high five or 2) work on a puzzle with you?” I asked my five and nine-year-old over the holiday break.
It was one set of about twenty force choice questions from the Five Love Languages for Kids quiz I was giving them in order to explore how my husband and I can continue to be mindful of how we can best customize our parenting to each child.
Both easily answered, “Work on a puzzle with you.”
The Love Languages quiz started in romantic relationships and describes five primary love languages:
- Physical Touch
- Receiving Gifts
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Acts of Service
It helps us to build self-awareness of how we like to give and receive love.
We continued through the questions and discovered that both our children’s primary love language is quality time.
My husband stumbled into the quiz with the kids, so he and I also both took the couple’s quiz. Turns out, both of our primary love languages is also quality time.
So being mindful of this, we have started family night on Friday evenings which consists of making homemade pizza or some other simple meal together, eating, and either playing a game or watching a movie together. We are trying to be mindful of how to give and receive love in a way that is meaningful, and we are fortunate that we all have the same primary love language.
Turns out love languages are also applicable in the workplace. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace and the corresponding Motivating by Appreciation (MBA) Inventory assessment help colleagues better understand how to customize appreciation towards others in order to build successful and empowering relationships at work.
Quality time may be your language of appreciation, but at work, it doesn’t have to be expressed through pizza and game night, and that isn’t actually how most people at work want or need it to be expressed.
From the book, “Our research indicates…. The employee simply wants to feel that what they are doing is significant and that their supervisor values their contribution. Taking a few minutes to check-in and hear how things are going communicates genuine expression of interest in what they are doing and makes them feel valued.”
So if you are a supervisor or colleague is someone who values quality time, how do you express this at work? Here are four ways to express quality time, grounded in realizing that by giving away time, you are giving away your most precious resource. And your time is not about proximity to someone but about personal attention.
1. Focused attention: On our first family game night, I started cleaning up the kitchen about ten minutes into the game while my husband was resisting the urge to look at his phone. This new “tradition” wasn’t going to be successful if we didn’t focus all of our attention on it, and our kids quickly reminded us of this. “Mom, it’s your turn. Why are you cleaning up now?” they asked.
If we want to be good at giving quality time, we have to focus our attention on specifically that. Stop multitasking, give undivided attention, and listen to give away true quality time.
2. Quality conversation: The book states that this is “dialogue in which two individuals are sharing their thoughts, feelings and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context.” This is why and where regular one-on-ones with those you manage are so important. And this means your one-on-ones have to comply with number one above- focused attention. Your phone, email, etc. should be put up during quality conversations.
Quality conversation requires empathetic listening by maintaining eye contact, resisting the urge to interrupt, listening for feelings and thoughts, observing body language and affirming feelings even if you disagree with their conclusions.
It also requires asking good questions. Even though we don’t have a game or movie night every day of the week with our kids, we do try to sit down as a family for dinner most nights of the week. Quality conversation is started by everyone having to answer three questions: 1) What was your high of the day? 2) What was your low of the day? and 3) What is your hope for tomorrow? This has led to meaningful dialogue and a better understanding of each other.
3. Shared Experiences: Connecting inside and outside of work through shared experiences is an important way to express quality time. Research by the authors of the book indicates that “men whose primary appreciation language is quality time often prefer to share experiences as opposed to sit-down conversations.” A round of golf anyone?
We have quarterly planning meetings as a team at Horizon Point, which usually involves a full day of sitting around a table focusing attention and engaging in quality conversation to plan for the next three months. I decided to begin 2020 by adding the element of the shared experience to this. We took the first part of our meeting where we shared our 2019 accomplishments and brainstormed on goals for a walk on the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge. The Sandhill Cranes are out in full force this time of year, and it was great to get outside with everyone and experience something together.
4. Working collegially with coworkers on a task and small group dialogue. “Research shows that millennials and even Gen-Xers highly value working collaboratively with others,” states the book. Working in groups is a way to engage learning and small group dialogue along with it helps to generate ideas and suggestions in a way that may help people feel less intimidated than by sharing one-on-one thoughts with their supervisor.
The key to applying love languages of appreciation at work is to make it personal. By tuning in to what people need and giving them that- as opposed to what we need or what is easiest to give or what we can give in one blanketed way to everyone all at once- is the best way to show appreciation and motivate towards positive results.
How do you want to be appreciated at work?