Have you heard of Gary Chapman’s book on the 5 Love languages? Believe me when I say this is not some cheesy love book. According to Dr. Chapman, there are five universal ways that all people express and interpret love. Dr. Chapman firmly believes that each person has one primary and one secondary love language and he advocates that people tend to give love in the way they prefer to receive love (http://www.sheknows.com). The 5 love languages are Words of Affirmation; Quality time; Receiving gifts; Acts of service and Physical touch.
I know in our world when someone mentions the word “love”, our default mode thinks romance. While it’s true that the word love is predominantly used in that context, however in my journey of maturity I have come to realise that actually, understanding your love language and others love language transcends across every aspect of life.
In light of the revelation of my love language, I was doing a bit of a self-evaluation exercise about some of the leadership roles I have occupied. According to Dr Gary Chapman’s Love Language test, my primary love language is Words of Affirmation.
In my self-evaluation exercise I began to think about most of the missed opportunities in the roles I have occupied. By my very nature I believe that I try my best to exude excellence in whatever I do. Usually when I start something new; be it a new project, new job, new role etc, I am full of excitement and bubbling with creative ideas- ready to implement. So I flourish in environments where I am constantly affirmed through recognition and praise. However, reality is most of the environments and leadership styles I have been exposed to, have not really supported this kind of love language. I have been in environments and had leaders skilled in criticism.
I recall the many great ideas and action plans I would come up with that never got off the ground or failed dismally because of negative words. When I am not affirmed I become complacent and I end up disappearing with the crowd. I think of all the inadequate things I witnessed and inside of me I would cringe because I knew I could do something to improve the situation, but I wouldn’t do it because I couldn’t get pass the horrible words spoken. Now don’t get me wrong, the work still got done, but inside of me I didn’t really care. I really tried to speak myself out of the negative words and carry on to do the work, but it was a difficult journey. I have also been in environments and had leadership styles that encouraged my creativity; gave me authority and ultimately consistently affirmed me through recognition and praise. I must say these were the times I really flourished. When I am in this kind of environment I really give it my all.
So when I got a hold of Dr Gary Chapman’s book and began to understand my love language, I had an Aha moment! And came to the conviction that this love language concept is true and it cuts across every area of one’s life. What was more powerful for me was I began to understand the love languages of others around me and I must say that has made my interactions more meaningful. I really think everyone needs to know their own love language and also come to a point of understanding others. Love is powerful and it cuts across every era; every nation, every business and history tells us that the people, who do great things and are remembered, are people who have, understood and appreciated the love languages of the humanity they serve.