You help your wife every time she faces a problem with her gadgets but she often complains you don’t care.
You compliment your sister on her dressing style but she feels it has little meaning.
You say ‘I love you’ to your husband at least twice a day but he complains you don’t love him.
You often buy “thinking of you” gifts for your friends but are disappointed that they never reciprocate.
Have you experienced this mismatch where you truly appreciate a person but he doesn’t feel appreciated? Or you don’t feel valued by a person, even though he says he values you immensely.
Where is the Problem?
Try speaking French to an Italian. Will he understand?
We speak in and understand different languages for love, affection and appreciation. These languages can be as distinctive as French and Italian. Therefore, a significant amount of miscommunication or lack of communication can be expected if we don’t pay enough mind to our love language.
THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES
For 15+ years Psychologist Dr. Gary Chapman studied how people express and receive love. He came to the conclusion that there are 5 universal languages of love. Each one of us has a different primary language in which we express and receive affection. If we are able to adapt ourselves to the other person’s love language, we can build a wholesome and supportive relationship.
What are the 5 Love Languages?
Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts & Acts of Service
Before we learn the languages,
What are the Benefits of Knowing the Love Languages?
- Build deeper connections: If you have ever felt that an important relationship is superficial and lacks depth, speak to them in their love language for 3 weeks and see the magic unfold.
- Use your energy, time and resources in the right manner: Our fast paced lifestyle has put a huge strain on our resources, especially time. You want to use your time with an important person in the best possible manner. Don’t waste it by loving them wrong.
- Show your respect: By acknowledging and making an effort to speak someone’s love language you are telling them that you truly respect them.
- Repair relationships: We all have some friendships or relationships that went sour along the way. If you want to rekindle those bonds, the love languages are a powerful tool.
- Get more done: Yes, the love languages are also a productivity tool. When relationships are going well and people feel appreciated, we work better together –at home or in office.
Let’s understand the Love Languages.
- WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
We all love compliments but for those of us whose primary love language is Words of Affirmation, positive, affirmative words are necessary to feel valued.
You love your mother to the moon and back. She is the most important person in your life. You often do things for her like paying her bills and fetching things that she needs from the grocery store. You tell yourself “There is no need to tell her; I am her son, she knows how much I love her. I do so much for her”. But if Words of Affirmation is her primary love language then you will often hear from her that you don’t care for her and you have forgotten her.
So what do you do?
Appreciate something that she has done: “I noticed that you fetched my clothes from the laundry guy. It was very sweet and kind of you”
Appreciate her skill: “You are such an amazing singer. The other day when you were singing at the wedding function, everyone was in awe of you.”
Say words of encouragement: “I see you are exercising every day. Your skin is glowing because of that.”
Appreciate something that you take for granted: “Mom, thanks for the amazing tiffin that you give me for office. You know exactly how I like my veggies. ”
Tell her how much she means to you: “On your birthday today I want to tell you that you are the most helpful person that I have ever come across. You have always been so helpful to everyone around you and people praise you for that. I am so proud to be your son.”
- ACTS OF SERVICE
For people whose primary love language is Acts of Service; follow one thumb rule – help them get their to-do list off their back. Do things for them which makes their life easy or which they are unable to do.
It could be simple things like ordering grocery on behalf of your wife or picking up clothes from the drycleaners.
- PHYSICAL TOUCH
First, an interesting story. Every time Deepa met her friend Rekha, she would reach out for a hug. But she felt Rekha’s hug was very reluctant. She started feeling that perhaps Rekha did not like her as much as she had proclaimed. Even though Rekha often claimed that their friendship meant a great deal to her, she could perhaps not translate it into cues that Deepa could understand better. This mystery was solved for Deepa when she learned about the love languages and realized that hers was Physical Touch whereas Rekha’s was definitely not!
You must have come across friends and colleagues who like to hug or high five every time they meet – not in a bad way. They want a physical affirmation which says “I am there for you.”
High fives, fist pumps, hugs, handshakes, pats on the back – are commonly seen gestures that people use, to display affection in their love language. Speak in the same language with them and reinforce your bond with them!
But what if a hug makes you feel uncomfortable? Don’t do it. Use milder forms of physical touch like extending your arm in a handshake when they approach you so that you are speaking their language but toning it down to your comfort.
- RECEIVING GIFTS
Do not mistake it with materialism or greed. People who value gifts as their primary love language; value the thoughtfulness, love and effort behind each gift. They thrive on it! It could be a homemade cake baked by you or a card with a simple heart-felt message. Just knowing that you did it for them and you were thinking about them, will make their day.
How can you best speak this language?
- Keep a notebook of gift-ideas for the ones whose love language is receiving gifts. Keep making a note of the desires they express in day to day conversations.
- Do not forget to keep a note of their birthdays, anniversaries and other special days. Especially, if they have achieved something and you want to congratulate them, giving them a token of your wishes is a good idea!
- When you travel, ask them what they would like you to bring for them.
- Once in a while, give them small tokens which communicate “thinking of you” or “this reminded me of your hobby” or “I think you might like it”. For example, you have a friend who loves fashion and make-up. On your way back from the airport you see a newly launched magazine on fashion. Get it for her and see the joy on her face.
- Offer them a care pack when they’re sick. This one is super kind and brightens up their day. Giving them a movie DVD or a basket of fruits when they are running a fever, is one of the most thoughtful things that you can do, to speak in their language.
- QUALITY TIME
The most important thing for the speakers of this language is full, undivided attention and spending special time together. But quality can mean different things to different people. Don’t compromise the quality time by not understanding what the definition of quality time is, for them. Usually it could mean:
Doing an activity together: It could be as simple as having a hearty laugh during lunch with your best friend or hiking with your spouse.
Doing an activity that they like: Your partner loves playing golf. Showing him that you are genuinely interested in learning more about his hobby and trying it with him would make your partner feel genuinely appreciated.
Having a heart to heart conversation: Did she ask for a quiet dinner together and you ended up calling all your friends? Listen to her! She wants to spend quality time with you alone.
Giving them your undivided attention: This means no phones, TV or any other distraction.
Your 14-year-old comes to you with an interesting idea of creating a sculpture for your living room. You tell him that it is a great idea and give him money to buy the raw materials. Your enthusiastic teenager makes a beautiful sculpture for home. But in a casual conversation with your wife he tells her “Dad is so unsupportive. He did not like my idea at all”
You are shocked! After all you told him that it is a great idea and encouraged him to make it. But well, what you could not manage was keeping your phone down and giving him all your attention when he was presenting his idea to you. Your son’s love language could be quality time and he did not feel appreciated by you!
Offering additional time: Sometimes, simply telling your loved ones, that all your time is available for them today, can make their day.
Now, the next obvious question that comes to mind;
How to Identify Your Love Language?
- Ask yourself
- How do you express love, most often, to your loved ones?
- What makes you feel valued in a relationship?
- What do you request for, the most, in your relationships?
- What do you complain about, the most in relationships?
- Additionally, take this quiz created by Dr. Chapman
How to Discover Their Love Language?
- Ask them to take this quiz.
- What are they complaining about most often?
- “Why do we always have to go to noisy parties? Why can’t we just go for a nice quiet dinner?” (Quality Time)
- “You never help in the kitchen.” (Acts of Service)
- “Why are you always shy to hold my hand in public?” (Physical Touch)
- What kind of questions do they ask you?
- “You are back! What did you shop for during your trip?” (Receiving gifts)
- “How does this dress suit me?” (Words of Affirmation)
- What do they request for, the most?
- How do they express affection towards you?
- Experiment with them – Try using one language per day with them and notice how they respond. Soon you will discover which language, they speak the best.
How to Tell Them Your Love Language?
- Just say it. “Hey you always keep doing things for me around the house – cooking for me and helping me with my laundry (Acts of Service). I appreciate that but what I would truly appreciate is if you would spend time with me and have a nice heart to heart chat with me.” (Quality Time). Do not test them silently. All that you will do is set yourself for failure – because they may not be able to read your mind and figure out that you want to be appreciated in a certain way.
- Take the quiz with them
- Show them gratitude when they fulfil your love language. For example, if you received a gift, tell the person who gave it to you how his or her gift really helped you or how happy you felt about it.
There is always a but to every good thing. Isn’t it? Here are some precautions for using The Love Languages:
- Don’t be inauthentic: This one is a game spoiler. If you don’t genuinely think that the dress is suiting her don’t lie. She would be able to see through your body language and subconsciously not believe it; if the compliment is not sincere.
- Express discomfort: If something makes you uncomfortable, express it. If holding hands in public is not your preferred gesture, share it with her. But don’t do it if it makes you uncomfortable. You will end up hurting her more when you force yourself to do it. Compensate for it in a private conversation with a nice cuddle.
- Discovery takes time: We all like to receive affection in all the five languages. But usually there is one primary and one secondary language. If you don’t know the person very well you might mistake their love language to be something that she rarely uses . Give it at least 5-6 meetings to understand their appreciation language.
How to Benefit from the Love Languages?
Step 1: Make a list of all your loved ones and friends and guess their love language by answering questions about them (please see the questions above), observing them or asking them directly. To begin with, choose any 5 people out of your list
Step 2: Pick one person each day and express your appreciation in his/her love language. Keep doing it like a cycle – if you have 5 people on your list; after the 5th person is done come back to the first person again.
Step 3: Do this for a total of 3 cycles. During these 3 cycles, avoid finding any faults in them.
Step 4: What will you experience? First, you will start noticing things that you never noticed about your loved ones. Next, you will start noticing that people are responding to you more positively. And soon, you will start feeling that you are able to establish more meaningful relationships with them. Finally, once you’ve formed a solid relationship where the other person feels loved and valued, you will start noticing a significant improvement in your overall satisfaction at work and at home. And in no time, using the love languages will become second nature to you, just like your spoken and written languages.