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Work love languages are a thing – here's how to find out your colleagues'

Have you ever thought about work love languages – or declared yours to your boss? Picture the scene: you're having a fortnightly catch up with your line manager, and you let them know that, kind words aside, you're actually an Acts of Service kind of gal. Apparently, it's not such a bad idea. According to research LinkedIn, one in six – or 17% of us – are vowing to invest more in our friendships with our colleagues as part of “career committing” in the uncertain economic climate. Shrewder than that ill-advised kiss with Harry from Accounts at the Christmas party, we suppose…

We hear a lot about love languages in relation to romantic relationships – in modern dating, you're sometimes barely a few dates in before the topic comes up, while in an established relationship it's a useful framework to better meet your partner's needs (and vice versa). But what about work life, the context where, after all, you spend more waking hours of your week than anywhere else?

For those who are, at this juncture, a little confused what we're talking about, a recap: ‘love languages’ is a theory devised by American author Gary Chapman in his 1992 book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. As the now-popular wisdom goes, we all have preferred ways of receiving and giving affection – which ranges from acts of service, physical touch, quality time, gift-giving, and words of affirmation.

While physical touch might not be appropriate for work (see, again, the canoodling Harry from Accounts), other love languages might well be adapted to improve the quality of your work connections, according to LinkedIn’s Career Expert, Charlotte Davies, with (hopefully) positive ramifications for your professional success and satisfaction.

“Expressing appreciation in the workplace is something we all do, but perhaps not something we’ve all considered how to do best,” says Charlotte. "By viewing our colleagues through the lens of ‘love languages’, we can make sure to communicate on their level and ultimately, forge stronger relationships. Don’t be afraid to let your colleagues know what motivates you and if in doubt, just ask!”

To get the ball rolling – here are Charlotte's four key work love languages, plus their matching personas.

“The Cheerleader” (inspired by ‘Words of Affirmation’)

How to spot them: The Cheerleader will be your team member sending out a mass email or Slack acknowledgement to congratulate you publicly on your work. They're always letting you know how much they appreciate your hard graft, giving you space to speak in team meetings and paying you compliments on what you've produced.

How to be a Cheerleader yourself: Everyone loves a compliment, whether they admit it or not – so try returning the favour whenever you admire or appreciate the work someone's done. This might be through a group chat message, or (if it feels more natural) a one-on-one exchange. Just make sure you verbalise it.

"The Helping Hand” (inspired by ‘Acts of Service’)

How to spot them: If your colleague is always proffering their support to you and other colleagues when you're struggling, this is a sure sign they're a “Helping Hand”. They might also be there to help you prepare for a presentation over lunch; filling in for you during annual leave; taking on a last-minute shift swap; or simply sharing their particular skillset (say, a whiz with an Excel spreadsheet) with you even if it's not technically their job.

How to be a Helping Hand yourself: Want to pay it forward? Try offering to help a colleague with a tricky project, or share their workload if you've got the capacity.

“The Conversationalist” (inspired by ‘Quality Time’)

How to spot them: If your colleague or line manager takes extra care to coordinate their ‘in-office’ days at the same time as yours, or is sure to pop by your desk or schedule regular Zoom catch-ups, they're likely a quality time-valuing Conversationalist. See also: work social events, where they will always be, getting in the first round at the pub or keeping conversation flowing rather than rushing for the train home. For them, the fact of physically (or virtually) showing up speaks volumes about their commitment to you.

How to be a Conversationalist yourself: It's not enough to just talk or spend time with your colleagues – the Conversationalist's true edge comes through giving attention and actively listening, so focus on doing this when with your co-workers (rather than giving in to the temptation to check emails or your phone). This might work particularly well during your lunch hour, in the office canteen or local coffee shop.

“The Gifter” - (inspired by ‘Gifts’)

How to spot them: The Gifter is the person who's always doing a whip-around for your mutual colleague's leaving gift; getting everyone to sign a card; or popping to Sainsbury's to buy them a birthday cake on the team's behalf. On a day to day basis, the Gifter might be setting a cup of tea down on your desk, or bringing in a Tupperware of flapjacks they've baked over the weekends.

How to be a Gifter yourself: If you suspect your colleagues may appreciate a tangible display of affection, try taking the Gifter's lead: offering to pick up a latte for your boss next time you go to the fancy coffee shop, or bringing a bag of exotic sweets next time you return from a holiday. Sharing is caring!

The original article can be found on Glamour UK.

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