Do you know where the best place to work is? Out of all the places you have worked, which was the best? Maybe you are there right now. If asked why it was or is the best, you might have a difficult time articulating a response. Some things would be tangible like pay and time off and other benefits. Some would be intangible, good relationships, autonomy, or a great commute. Now, think of that good place and try to picture that instead of people walking around saying good morning to everyone, they said I hate you. Whoa, that’s harsh. What an environment killer that would be. Regardless of pay or benefits or commute, no one would want to work there. The best place for you to work maybe where you are right now. What if that feeling of it being the best place to work were only a few good words away?
There is a book written by Gary Chapman titled The Five Love Languages. To be honest I have never read it but the point of it is to find out how to show love to your spouse in a way that is meaningful to them personally. My wife told me years ago that her love language was what we call AAA: Attention, Affection, and Appreciation. This included things like always speaking kindly, putting things aside to spend time with her, and showing gratitude among many others. I have a long way to go but just knowing this has been hugely helpful in our relationship and I strive to show these things daily through my words and deeds. Chris and I have written numerous times about the power of words and their impact on those around you. Language is more than just words though. There is spoken and unspoken language. You can speak a ton in some circumstances by saying nothing. Picture a dating couple and the guy says, “I love you,” and hears nothing on the other end. No words but a ton of communication, she is definitely not speaking his love language. As I considered reading the book I thought about love languages at work.
With the understanding that we are not talking about romantic relationships here, consider if you knew from each team member what their work love language was. How could you speak to them differently? What if there was an initiative to study work love languages of everyone at work? There is such a thing as common courtesy which everyone appreciates, but what if John in the corner really likes to focus between 9AM and 10:30 without a break or interruption. What if Sally really hates to walk down the stairwell by herself and feels safer with a friend. What if Ben really appreciates others thoughts on his projects. All of these are in a way examples of people’s work love language. It is how they feel like team members and leaders are hearing them.
I love to imagine an environment at work where everyone understood how to show appreciation, affection (appropriately) and attention, in other words everyone would value and honor everyone else sense of how they feel appreciated. In this election year where every radio and TV ad is full of hate, let us all stop to think about how much better our work cultures would be if we took the time to consider others first. We all play a part in making the places where we work the best place to work, one kind work at a time.