The Corporate Languages of Love
By Cindy Schwartz
Two decades ago a book surfaced called The Five Languages of Love, by Gary Chapman. The book outlines how we express and receive love through five distinct patterns, namely; Gift Giving, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. Chapman explores the idea that if you can identify your own language and that of your partner, you will be able to communicate more effectively and thus be able to receive and give love in ways that are more meaningful to you and your partner.
Life is made up of a series of exchanges. When we speak we don’t always anticipate how the recipient will interpret our words. Understanding a recipient’s language can significantly change the dynamic of a relationship. It leaves less room for the speaker to feel misunderstood or underappreciated. If my love language happens to be Words of Affirmation and you show me affection by showering me with presents (The Gift Giving language), your attempt at showing me affection will have considerably less impact than say, you vocalizing to me how much you appreciated reading my fantastic article on Monster.ca.
The nature of our relations with colleagues and managers differs from the connections we have with our spouses and family, so presumably, the way that we communicate should adapt accordingly. The authors explored the five languages in a professional context; not considering, however, the standpoint that a person’s professional voice may be expressed differently from their personal one.
This notion that we exhibit distinct communication patterns at work elicited a strong curiosity in me. I started to pay close attention to the styles of speech in my professional world. What emerged were trends grouping into four pronounced categories. These classifications were different than those examined in the book, but nonetheless in the same spirit.
Here is my take on four types of corporate personas and their corresponding languages.
The language of money: This person thinks in numbers, statistics, and calculations. There is little consideration for emotional needs in this form of speech. Effective techniques with this language are to reference past financial successes, and being able to demonstrate projected financial gains or earning potential. You can use financial incentives to motivate employees.
The language of logic: This language revolves around an exchange of data and facts. Logic-type people are solutions-oriented, concise and straight shooters. They will only consider emotional needs if it makes sense to the equation at-hand. Ensure that your pitch is refined; otherwise you may lose their interest with too much detail. Present a case that includes why, when, and how you would/could justify a given subject. Motivate this individual by showing them the potential cause and effect of a desired behavior or action.
Language of self-importance: Here, dialogue is focused on the ego. What value do you bring to their personal wants and desires? Motivation to react can stem from a place of competition, a positive drive, and/or a determination to succeed. Alternatively, they can also be acting out from a place of insecurity. Make them feel invaluable; assuring them that you could not achieve a certain accomplishment without their help or input. Another effective approach is to relate your needs in a way that furthers their success or credibility. You can easily motivate them through public recognition.
The language of sentimentality: Simply needing to be heard are front and center here. A sensor responds well to praise, fairness, and thoughtful consideration. No amount of logic will be effective in trying to make them feel understood. The best gift you can offer is an attentive ear, without necessarily dispensing any advice. Engage and motivate by hearing their concerns and offer empathy as a way of connecting with them.
Not surprisingly most individuals I observed were multilingual in many respects, displaying different patterns in varying situations. However, many tended to have a dominant language that governed their behavior and actions. It is also worth mentioning that in several cases a person’s language for receiving data differed from the way in which they communicated ideas or thoughts. A common combination observed involved individuals using their egos to drive what they wanted to hear, while dispensing advice and opinions using a voice of logic.
I have tested my theory and by adapting communication styles, there was a shift towards more productive exchanges where both parties walked away feeling satisfied and heard. The conversations felt more collaborative and the key to this satisfaction was in the delivery method of the love language.
Do you recognize your own language? Can you identify any of your colleagues or superiors in these dispositions? Once you do, you can apply your own spin to these techniques to assist with everyday conversations, making sure that you are a winner in the corporate communication game!