How do you express love to your friends or family? How do you receive love? These are the questions that drive the idea of the 5 Love Languages. Communication is the basis of any kind of relationship – especially work relationships! Figuring out your love language can help yourself and others understand how to reward one another for a job well done. It can make for better communication between coworkers, and better office culture overall!
Chewse is founded on expressing love to one another. Food is one of the many ways we do it. It’s how we make sure to show our deskmates and team know that no one should feel like they don’t have a seat at the table. No, it’s not some fru-fru stuff that means we sit in a circle singing feel-good songs to one another (although we do do a bit of that…). But it does mean we go out of our way to get to know the new hire or catch up with someone on another team.
Using the five love languages to jumpstart office culture
Everyone has different love languages, so we wanted to break it down a little bit. Natasha might not like hugs, or Sebastian might feel weird about receiving gifts. Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “if I do or say something nice, that should be enough!” Not quite. It won’t go over too well if you’re showing love in a way that makes the other person uncomfortable.
Learning how your coworkers give and receive love will not only improve your working relationships, it will show people how much you truly care about them and their work. Want to know how we do it? These are just some of the ways we show love to one another. Some of these might come naturally to you and others might not. Take these back to your office and find what works for you. You just might make someone’s day a little brighter and your team a little closer.
1) Words of affirmation
The official 5 Love Languages site defines words of affirmation as “using your words to build up the other person.” Words of affirmation are all about voicing your thoughts and feelings to people who’ve made you feel special or helped you out in some way. Sometimes it’s hard to put gratitude into words. Words matter and sharing your thoughts out loud to someone can be kind of terrifying.
Words of affirmation don’t have to be some five page gratitude letter that you write in formal cursive and leave it on your coworker’s desk. Actually, it’s probably best if you don’t do that anyway. Even if it’s a simple thank you, or something more personal, verbally acknowledge that that person went out of their way to help or connect with you.
Since Day 1, Chewse has practiced sharing gratitude with coworkers for this very reason. You can find us circled up every Friday for “Attitudes of Gratitude.” This is the time where we take some time to write little notes of appreciation to a person or team that made an impact that week and share them one-on-one. Afterwards, we all get in a circle to share any “public” gratitude. It’s a great time to take a step back to recognize the wins for the week – and the people that got you there.
2) Gift giving
Gift giving is all about giving a physical item or memento to a person to show your appreciation for them. It’s about taking a moment out of your own day to pick up a coffee, get them a birthday present, or make them a handmade token. Gifts are small reminders that can have a lasting effect on the person you give them to.
Gifts don’t have to be physical items in the traditional sense, either! If you know your manager, direct report, or work BFF is having a tough week, grab them a coffee or afternoon pick-me-up snack. Or, if you’re the head honcho, show appreciation for your team’s hard work by setting up lunch or breakfast catering with Chewse (we had to). Even coordinating monthly birthday treats to celebrate employees can have a huge impact on them and your office culture.
Gifts don’t even have to cost money. Sometimes the most thoughtful items aren’t purchased! Maybe you were cleaning out your closet and spotted a jacket that would look absolutely perfect on your coworker. Or maybe you have a side hustle (go you!) as a woodworker and you gift a trinket to your desk mate. Whatever it is, big or small, giving someone a gift shows them you took the time to make them feel special.
Gift giving can have a negative effect, though, if you expect something in return. The whole point of gift giving is to give your love to someone in the form of a gift. Make sure it’s thoughtful, a reasonable budget for yourself, and shared with selflessness.
3) Quality time is office culture-building time!
Your time is precious, so spending it with other people is an invaluable way to show your love! Quality time is about giving your undivided attention to chat and really listen to the person’s thoughts, feelings, or even just to share a good laugh. But when people are distracted – looking at their phone or preoccupied with getting to the next meeting – it can feel like that person would rather be elsewhere.
Technology in the workplace makes it easy to connect to teams in different parts of the world to one another. You’d think that would mean productivity is through the roof then, right? Short answer is, no. Research shows that employees today spend half their day using technology to communicate with coworkers instead of face-to-face interactions. More than half of these workers say that they feel lonelier at work as a result. Remote workers are especially hurt by this, as they are physically disengaged from the workplace. No one wants to be part of an office culture like that.
Eating lunch with your coworkers, weekly or monthly walks, or going out for post-work libations are great ways to unwind and connect in a non-work setting. Spending quality time with someone shows them that you want to dedicate your time and energy to them. This is especially crucial for new hires and veterans to connect with one another. Tools like Donut (#notsponsored) make it super simple for people to spend quality time with soon-to-be friends!
4) Acts of service
Acts of service are all about doing something for your friend or coworker that you know they’d appreciate. Think about the last time someone offered to help you on a project or pick you up from the airport. Remember how relieved and thankful you felt that that person wanted to ease your worries to help you out? Acts of service is a wonderful way to show gratitude – especially in a fast-growing company.
Working in a company that’s scaling quickly is a thrill, and a challenge. It’s ultra-rewarding to see the fruits of your labor, but it can test you to no end. That’s why an act of service is such a valuable way to show love to your team. When you know a team member will need to sprint to get through complex code or if a friend needs to put out a fire, showing up to help is the ultimate relief. To us, an office culture that encourages acts of service is a loving one.
An act of service can manifest in many different ways. It can mean grabbing a plate of food for a colleague whose meeting is running late. Or, volunteering to help your office manager set-up the office happy hour or event they’ve organized. The most rewarding part of an act of service is the sheer sigh of relief when you offer to take a load off their back.
5) Physical touch – office culture approved!
Office-appropriate physical touch is not to be scoffed at! Research shows that a hug reduces stress and increases ability to communicate fear, gratitude, and sympathy. Hugging is indeed becoming more accepted in the business world (and it’s a way of life at Chewse!). It’s a comforting way to celebrate a huge win or console a coworker.
The best rule of thumb when it comes to a workplace hug is to get a verbal “Okay!” While we admire your attempt to single-handedly turn your office culture into a hugfest, checking in should always be your default. Our own office culture wouldn’t be what it is without hugs! But we always go out of our way to ask. And when hugging isn’t an option, you can never go wrong with a good handshake or a pat on the back for a job well done.
We don’t morph into robots as soon as we step into work. Nor should we! These are just a few of the ways we show love to our coworkers and we hope that your office culture adopts these acts of love and gratitude. You’ll start to find that people will feel more appreciated and your office culture will become one that people will make people excited to work for. Take a look at our eBook! In it, you’ll find all kinds of tips and tricks on how to build an office meal program and a happy team.