May I Understand You?

images-18Research shows that most humans yearn to be understood. Perhaps today you can spend time understanding those around you. At the very least, your efforts may translate into better communication, increased understanding, and ultimately, improved relationships.

Can bilingualism make people more aware of their own and others love languages? I believe so.

So that we can understand and love each other better, Dr Gary Chapman created the model of the 5 love languages: Quality Time, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts.

Most of us grow up learning the languages of our parents, which becomes our native tongue. We later learn additional languages, but with slightly more effort. For those of us who are born bilingual and become polyglots or multilingual, it may be easier to understand others culturally because our brains are used to making an effort to interpret what others are saying and doing.

Our emotional love language and that of others may be as different as Mandarin from English – no matter how hard you try to express yourself in English to someone who only understands Mandarin, you need to use a huge amount of energy to get the message across. Don’t forget that body language (55%) and tone of voice (38%) also have culture specific meaning.

It’s rare for husbands and wives, friends, and colleagues to have the same primary love language. Unless we learn how to alter our own communication, we tend to speak our own primary love language and become confused when others don’t understand what we’re communicating. Once you identify and learn to speak another persons love language, you’ll have discovered the key to a long-lasting, loving friendship, partnership, marriage.

Just with any model, the 5 love languages are meant to guide us and bring us one step closer. We all appreciate all 5 languages, however we usually prefer 1 or 2 over others if we have to choose.  Another way to discover your love language, is to think about how you naturally show love to others, as we often give what we like to receive. We often hear the expression, “treat others the way you would like to be treated”. I think we need to re assess and “treat others the way THEY would like to be treated”.

I had a partner a few years back who thought Chapman’s book was silly. I explained it to him in short, and said to him that I thought his love language was physical touch and words of affirmation. I went on to explain that our lack of connection could be because I did not grow up with words of affirmation and it is something I am learning (I believe I have become genuinely good at it now, especially as a mentor). In addition, because my primary language is acts of service, I would get incredibly hurt when he told me he was going to do something and then didn’t. To me, this showed a lack of love, to him, it was not at all meant to be a disrespect of love, he just didn’t think it was that important to me. Clearly, because we could’t agree to love each others in the other persons language, we had to end it and move on, yet we are still close friends today.

Men, don’t cop out and assume your language is physical touch just because your brain is wired to think so. It might even be worth taking physical touch out of the test until you fully understand how you prefer to give and receive love. Dr. Chapman says, “We’re not talking comfort. We’re talking love. Love is something we do for someone else. So often people love one another but they aren’t connecting. They are sincere, but sincerity isn’t enough.”

Although you may score certain love languages more highly that others, don’t dismiss the other languages. Friends, family and colleagues may express love in those ways, and it will be beneficial for you to understand this about them. In the same way, it will benefit people around you to know your love language so they can express their affection for you in ways that you interpret as love.

Take the test here, and have a relaxing Sunday filled with love and understanding.

My results are:

1. Acts of Service (includes doing work together and small gestures)

2. Quality Time (focussed, fun, experience, not necessarily quantity)

3. Words of Affirmation (I love poetry, what you do means more to me than what you say)

4. Physical Touch (I’m very ‘touchy feely’, I find it hard to be physical if I don’t feel loved)

5. Receiving Gifts (I still appreciate gifts, I’d just rather have the gift of love)

Learn more about Dr Gary Chapman and the 5 love languages here. 

With this backdrop, do you understand why your customers buy? (next article…)

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