How Are the 5 Love Languages and the 5 Languages of Appreciation Related?

August 5, 2019 9:00 am Published by


The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Dr. Paul White and Dr. Gary Chapman















Many of you are familiar with The 5 Love Languages as described in Gary Chapman’s bestselling book have found them helpful in their personal relationships. Some may wonder if there is really any difference between the 5 Love Languages and the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. While the languages discussed in both books are the same in name, the application and expression of the languages in the work environment are quite different than in personal relationships.

First, you shouldn’t assume that your primary love language in personal relationships is the same as your most important language of appreciation in the workplace. We have found that a person’s primary love language and language of appreciation are only the same 65% of the time. So, for example, just because your primary love language is quality time doesn’t mean that quality time is your primary language of appreciation at work.

Additionally, there are some specific differences between the 5 Love Languages and the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace:

*Often there is a “power dynamic” associated with work-based relationships that doesn’t exist in personal relationships. A relationship between a supervisor/supervisee, employer/employee, or between two team members at different responsibility levels within the organization clearly has different relational dynamics than a personal relationship between spouses, family members or friends.

*A different set of expectations and boundaries exists in work-oriented relationships. Work-based relationships usually are more formal than personal relationships. There are different social boundaries about appropriate topics of discussion, styles of communication, social settings and physical proximity than in relationships with family and friends.

*Verbal praise in front of others is utilized more in workplace settings. As a love language, words of affirmation tend to be communicated more personally between two individuals. In   work-based relationships, words of affirmation are often communicated in group contexts – in a team meeting, in front of customers, or at an award ceremony. Additionally, written communication through email and texting is used significantly more in work-based relationships.

*The language of physical touch is less important in the workplace than in personal relationships. Physical touch is the lowest language of appreciation for most people in the workplace. This makes sense – there are more boundaries in the workplace and even appropriate physical touch is not desired by many in the workplace. But spontaneous, celebratory displays (high fives, fist bumps, a pat on the back) are quite common between coworkers and are an important part of positive work-based relationships.

*Different types of quality time are valued in the workplace. While quality time in personal relationships is primarily expressed through focused attention, other types of quality time are also important in work-based relationships. These may include “hanging out” together with colleagues, working on tasks together, and having different types of experiences together to deepen team relationships.

*When demonstrating appreciation through acts of service in the workplace, there are important conditions to meet for the act to be valued by the recipient. Asking if the other person wants assistance, doing the service in the way the recipient wants it done, not repeatedly “rescuing” a colleague who is under-performing, and defining how much time you have to help – all are conditions that need to be met for the service offered to be viewed positively.

*The types of tangible gifts given differ in personal relationships and work-oriented relationships. In personal relationships, tangible gifts tend to be “things” – actual objects. Tangible gifts in the workplace are less about the “thing” and more about the thought behind it – that the giver actually knows what is important or valued by the recipient, what hobbies or interests they have-and the gift reflects this knowledge.

Just as the 5 Love Languages have been found to dramatically improve marriages and friendships, so the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace are showing themselves to significantly improve relationships among coworkers and to make workplace environments more positive for all who work there. If you benefited from the 5 Love Languages, try applying the same concepts to your workplace relationships (or vice versa!)


Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White discuss The 5 Love Languages

Gary and I conferring at a fundraising dinner.

In March, I sat down with Gary to talk about Workplace Appreciation on his podcast Building Relationships. The podcast is taking a break this summer from recording and will be re-airing great programs that they want their listeners to hear again. The links can be found under the Building Relationships tab on the site. My episode will re-air on August 3rd. If you don’t want to wait, you can listen now using this link.


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August 5, 2019 9:00 am

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