Love language, not to be confused with romance languages like French, Italian, and Spanish, is an important part of your communication and interaction with others. There’s a very well-known book called The Five Love Languages, which explains the ways in which people like to give and receive love from their partners, and how you can make each type of person feel the most loved and appreciated.
The main theme of the aforementioned book is that there is no fool proof, one-size-fits-all method to communicate to a partner that you care about them. The same concept is true when attempting to land a new job, bond with your co-workers, or improve an existing client relationship, especially with creatives in the corporate world.
Here’s a breakdown of the five ways that people feel appreciated—and how you can apply this knowledge to your advantage in the workplace.
Gifts *ahem it's the holiday season*
It doesn't have to cost you a dime. Workplace gifts can come in the form of shared information, like sending a colleague or boss an article relevant to your company. Perhaps it is a white paper on new design software, or a blog post about the most annoying fonts. (Ryan Gosling would appreciate that one - we all know he hates Papyrus!)
Promo or swag items are also appropriate during the holidays or for another special occasion. I personally LOVE corporate swag, especially when it’s edible, or practical items like water bottles or portable chargers. When working with creatives, think about something they would like, such as a custom stylus or dot journal.
For many, quality face time is the the preferred method of communication. Especially when working with new clients or when starting a new role. For QT lovers, sending an email every few weeks won’t suffice. Instead, they will be much more appreciative if you set up face to face meetings.
The creative process can be complex, whether this is giving a brief for banner artwork, or an intake call to compose a white paper. Many subtle details can’t be captured through bullet points, and require an in-person (or at least a phone) conversation. In remote work environments, this can be a bit tricky. Try to keep yourself available for Google Hangout/Skype meetings and always be online when your boss or client needs you. Lastly, communicating realistic timelines are crucial. The client has deadlines to meet, but you don’t want to cut your creative process short. Be crystal clear about how long certain things take to finish to ensure quality, and don’t allow yourself to be rushed!
Words of Affirmation
It never hurts to send a thank you note after a professional exchange, that’s just basic manners. Those folks whose love language includes words will certainly appreciate that handwritten note or email thanking them for working with you. Luckily for creative types, you can put your talents to use and write a beautiful poem, or design a custom typography illustration. Vocalizing your appreciation can speak volumes about your professionalism and positive attitude.
Additionally, when brainstorming with a client, it can be helpful to talk about emotions. This is not a session where you share your personal emotions, but rather the emotions the client is looking to elicit from their audience.The more information you can find out about what emotions or feelings your client wants the project to convey, the more aligned your goals will be.
Acts of service
These “acts” don’t have to include grand gestures. For some people, the epitome of service is when their significant other goes out of their way to do an everyday task like taking out the trash without being asked. Similarly, for some clients, a little extra service goes a long way. Simple things like hand delivery, discounting/waiving fees, or saving your client time by making their travel arrangements can go a long way to make them feel appreciated. Another thoughtful gesture is to show a client a sneak peek or preview before the deadline. Delivering early and giving a behind the scenes look of your project is sure to impress!
I’m certainly not suggesting anything that will land you a complaint with HR!! In a romantic relationship, people who speak this love language like holding hands, hugs, or other forms of PDA. In the professional world, this can translate to hand shake styles. A firm, yet natural shake is always best. A “I’m sticking my hand out to shake but really I wish you would kiss my hand to worship me like the princess I am” extended limp hand is just as bad as a “I’m going to break your fingers to show you that I am important” handshake. Both options guarantee an awkward first impression with a boss, colleague, or client, and should be avoided at all costs. Not confident on your handshake yet? Practice on a friend, partner, or family member until you get it right.
Shake on it? OK. Now.
How to tell which type you’re dealing with:
Take note of how the person in question treats you. Chances are, they will act upon whichever gestures they appreciate the most. Reciprocate in the same style. If they are hard to gage, experiment with several different styles to show your appreciation, and pay careful attention to how they react to each.
It’s also important to keep in mind that women and men generally have different professional communication styles. According to Monster, men are typically more aggressive about sharing their ideas, and women are more inquisitive. Forbes conducted research and found the top strengths for women are: body language awareness, good listening skills, and display empathy effectively. Alternatively, the top strengths for men are: commanding physical presence, ability to get straight to the point, and display power effectively. Keep this in mind when you’re next addressing your client!
If you can’t narrow down their particular favored love language, or preferred communication method based on their gender, find out their birthday and use this guide based on their sign! When in doubt, trust your gut. It is always a good idea to keep the lines of communication open in your creative workplace, regardless of your preferred love language!