A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you


All You Need is Love, part one.

Nowadays, if your tank’s empty, you’re fixin’ to spend over $50 to fill the darn thing up.

But an empty tank means something different to Gary Chapman.  He’s the author of numerous books but my favorite is his first book, The Five Love Languages.  (Chapman, Gary. (1992). The Five Love Languages, How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Chicago, Northfield Publishing)

Notwithstanding the incredibly cheesy title, I love this book.  An angel gave this book to me nearly eight years ago…she was a total stranger but an angel nonetheless. (If you’re interested in hearing that story, give me a call or drop me an email and I’ll tell you all about it…but bring the Kleenex as it’s a tear jerker.)

Anyway, I read the book on a plane trip, and it changed my life.  I’ve been a Chapman groupie ever since.

I believe the secret to leadership lies in this book. Speak your employees’ language and they will reciprocate with engagement, commitment, and hard work.

Trust me, it’s that easy!


Mr. Chapman tells us we have the capacity to speak five different languages when showing love to others.

Did I lose you because you can’t handle the “L” word?  If so, I’ll use appreciation or value so you can stay comfortable.

Mr. Chapman tells us that we have the capacity to speak five different languages when showing appreciation or value to others.  (Is that better?) Likewise, we are going to interpret the actions/behaviors of others based on what language is primary to us.

I offer the below examples to show how these languages relate to your job as a leader.


“Touch” employees appreciate a pat on the back or a good handshake for a job well done.  To them, if you reach over to touch their hand during a conversation, you are reminding them they are an active and relevant part of the discussion.  Likewise, a hug when they’ve had a crappy day will typically communicate you care about them and that you hope tomorrow will be better!  On the other hand, if you withhold touch from these staff, whether intentionally or unintentionally, you are telling them they aren’t valued. (Don’t go bellyachin’ about Sexual Harassment cuz it’s not about that.  If your work relationships don’t have any room for a simple touch of the hand or hugs every now and then, you’ve got big problems!)


Words of Affirmation

“Words of Affirmation” employees appreciate when you tell them what you think about them.  They like to hear the “thanks” and typically like to hear why you are thanking them (what they did to deserve it).  Don’t assume they are just looking for praise – it’s the use of words/communication that is meaningful to them.  Likewise, when you use sarcasm or antagonistic communication, you shut them down quicker than the announcement, “sorry, we’re out of bread pudding!”



“Service” employees appreciate when you take a moment to work along side them or when you offer to pick up the slack if needed.   They would think it thoughtful if you grab the mail on your way back to your office or if you cleaned the break room microwave once in awhile.  On the other hand, if you never make time to “serve” your team, you are telling these folks you don’t appreciate them and that they have no value to you.


Quality Time

“Quality time” employees appreciate your eyes…not because they are so captivating but because it means you are paying attention.  They like it when you turn your body to face them and they love it when you actually forward your phone so you’re not interrupted.  They feel jipped if you insist on multi-tasking when they need your help and trust me, they think you don’t give a darn about them if you insist on typing or texting when they are trying to talk to you.



“Gifts” employees appreciate things like cards, beverages, snacks, office bling, etc.  It’s not about the $ value of the gift, it is the thought behind it.  They love it when you remember they like hot tamales or that you chose a thank you card with a cat on it because of the menagerie they have at home.  They are touched when you spent four hours gluing some crazy thing together because you thought it would make them laugh.  On the other hand, when you give them a card out of the 1000 pack the company ordered last year and simply sign your name on it, you communicate they aren’t worth much to you at all.

These five languages are not difficult but alas, most of us only speak one or two of them. If we don’t have good receptors for these things, we are likely to have unhappy and unfulfilled employees.  Certainly we will miss our opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to and our appreciation to them!


My challenge to you?  Become a linguist!

Mr. Chapman knows this can build, sustain and even mend some relationships; perhaps you should read his book, apply its principles and see for yourself!  Visit Mr. Chapman’s website and take a quick assessment…this is enough to get you started until my next post on the subject!  http://www.5lovelanguages.com/assessments/love/ 

AppreciationEmployee EngagementEmployee RelationsEncouragementLeadershipLoveRecognitionSatisfactionValueWorkforce

Heather Kinzie • February 20, 2012

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  1. Tricia February 20, 2012 - 2:52 pm Reply

    We’ve actually introduced his “business” book at work…5 Languages of Workplace Appreciation an it’s been well received!

    • Heather Kinzie February 20, 2012 - 6:27 pm Reply

      Great! I introduced it as a mandatory read when I first started teaching Leadership classes…and it’s been a part of my “MO” ever since. We introduced it to an entire unit in a hospital to see if it made a difference in the way patients and their families felt about their care…and of course it did! A very positive difference!

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