If someone wanted to show you their undying love for you, what should they do?
Would you want gifts or a kind touch or compliments?
Maybe you would prefer this person to do something for you or with you. Gary Chapman labels these options as our love languages.
Our preferred way to be loved falls into one of these five categories:
Words of affirmation.Quality time.Acts of service.Physical touch.Gifts.
My love language is acts of service, especially doing things for me that I do not enjoy doing myself, like taking out the trash, making the bed, painting the bedroom or cleaning the windows. Getting something done is important to me. Thank you to whomever helps me complete my projects.
During the holidays, a friend shared with me that she received a recycled gift from a co-worker. In other words, her gift (an unused gift card to a coffee shop that she enjoys) was a regift. My friend did not have a problem with the gift; however, she did struggle with the packaging. Not only was the gift card regifted, but so was the holiday card. Other names and messages were crossed out and rewritten for my friend, the new receiver of the gift.
My friend’s love language also is acts of service. The act of not creating a new card spoke louder than the words written on the card. This act showed her that there was minimal effort in her gift. She felt like a last-minute thought.
When you take Chapman’s love language assessment, you learn which of the five languages you connect with the most. It usually is no surprise how the assessment labels our preferred way to be loved. We know what we like. We know what shows us love.
However, have you ever thought about how you like to give love?
When my son was a teenager, he shared his Christmas list with me. Only one item was on the list: Video games. I do appreciate lists; however, this list was not helpful. I do not play video games. I have no idea where to start when looking for this gift. I need more details.
To help my son, Jacob, understand why it is critical to be specific, I shared what I was learning as I searched for his Christmas gift. I visited online video game websites and found fitness games for the game system that we owned. I was so excited to get him a game that I can enjoy with him. But Jacob was horrified by my selection. He asked why I would even consider getting that for him. My answer was “because I like it.”
As crazy as it sounds that I would gift my son a game that I would enjoy more than he would, it is common that we give the same way we like to receive. If you love to receive gifts, then you probably go overboard giving presents on holidays. If words of affirmation are what you treasure, then you might write a lovely card as a gift. If quality time is important to you, then you might spend your time socializing with friends instead of helping them complete a chore.
Gift-giving is just like communicating with someone. It is not the communicator that determines the level of success in an interaction. It is the listener who determines success. It is the receiver that determines the effectiveness of a gift.
Love is fragile. We quickly can shatter a relationship if we do not consider the receiver of our love. Whether we agree with another person’s preferred love language or not does not matter. Giving is a way to share love. Be sure to put in the extra effort so that your gift is remembered and cherished by the receiver.
Kathie Rotz is a leadership consultant and John Maxwell Certified Speaker, Trainer and Coach with Unity Consulting in Dubuque.