If anyone of you has not read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, then you are really missing out on some effective communication strategies. Chapman describes 5 different ways to communicate effectively to ones that we may hold very dear to us. Actually, he wrote the first book for spouses. However, after reading the book numerous times in the past five years, I’ve had a revelation of how his ideas could be valid as a leader. When I use the word leader, I do not only mean an administrator but any person who leads others, which could mean a classroom teacher, an interventionist, a coach, a nurse, a secretary, a specialist, a bus driver, etc.
Chapman describes the five languages as:
- Words of Affirmation- saying nice or kind words to the person
- Quality Time- Having a meaningful, quality conversation; listening
- Receiving Gifts- a coffee, favorite snack, an inexpensive token of appreciation
- Acts of Service- teaching a class for someone or doing a duty
- Physical Touch- a hug, a pat on the back, or a touch on the should that says you care
As a leader, you own one or two of these styles yourself. In fact, you may need all of these to some degree, but you probably have at least one or two dominant languages you need. More often than not, you also show others you care by reciprocating with your dominant language(s).
For instance, I am “words of affirmation” and “quality time”. In order to have my emotional tank filled, I need to hear kind, positive words about something I am doing or who I am. I also love spending time with others. I tend to show others I care by participating in the same things with them. I do have to be aware that others may not share my same dominant language. So, even though my tank is getting the fuel it needs, the person I am with may not.
As a school leader, it is important to realize our staff and students have emotional needs, too. These language identifiers really help! Just think about how you could get children to do what they needed by simply speaking their language. On the flip side, you have to be careful and sensitive whenever critiquing or disciplining them. If you use a lot of words that may be considered a “put down” to a person who thrives on words of affirmation, then you can hurt this individual’s self-esteem.
It is not that we can always operate on these languages to build relationships, but it sure is worth the effort. You really have everything to gain in just trying. It can’t hurt to affirm or care for someone a little too much. It is a win-win situation in my opinion.
My last post was about using Padlet. I plan to use Padlet in an activity called iCare. I am going to build a wall and have teachers share their love language on it. I will use this wall as I work with them throughout the year. As a leader, I want my teachers to know I care about who they are and what they need most.