Sometimes we feel like we just are not connecting with our staff, clients, and athletes. A few years ago, I discovered the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. They transformed the way I work with my fellow co-workers, athletes, friends, and family. With just a little time and effort, you can make those who you have not been able to reach more open to you. In this next paragraph, I will describe each of the five languages as well as ways to inspire and motivate those around you.
Some people are just more touchy than the norm. They are the ones who constantly shake hands, have a secret shake, hug, high five, and maybe even wrestle with their peers. Being together with appropriate physical touch is a great way to encourage a person whose language is called “physical touch.” I am normally not a huggy person but I will go out of my comfort zone and do hugs to those who need or want them. High fives mean a lot to a physical touch person. Some people are born or raised to need a side hug once in a while. Even if it is uncomfortable for you, get out of your comfort zone. A tap on the shoulder or learning a special handshake really means a lot.
Words of Affirmation:
A person whose language is affirmation is pleased when they are told they did a good job. Some of the words they enjoy hearing are “terrific,” “good job,” “you are the best,” and “you did it.” Some ways to encourage this language are to write positive notes and speak positively about them. Praise them aloud to others. Write a letter to them. Make up a book, cheer, or song with their name in it, but be specific about their praise. Persons with this love language like books written with their name on it and pictures telling about their lives. A note of accomplishment on the bulletin board for all to see or a mention on social media can make their day! I know that giving a call after a great accomplishment is important to a person who thrives on words of affirmation. Recently, I had an irate client who was accusing another person of something wrong. I did not try to defend myself and I just listened. I even gave praise. It changed everything. Just listening and giving praise is sometimes what a person craves. Compliments with purpose also go far. Having a meaningful note or award hung up for all to see is key. It is also good PR for your business.
This language involves spending time with the client. They just enjoy spending time with you. A while back, there was a special party at my fitness center and I got a special person to bring my client. It was fun eating and hanging out. Even a small bit of time like 15 extra minutes can mean a difference in someone’s life. It’s also important to maintaining eye contact and ask about their day. If appropriate, find out what makes them tick, ask about their day and week, and spend time out at the gym with them. Recently, a client shared with me his dream of doing a 5K. I trained him and actually walked the event with him. Get beyond surface questions and find out why a person feels the way they do. This can help avoid negative conversations in the future. A recent client who loved baseball helped his team win an important game. I texted him to congratulate him. It really made a positive difference in our relationship.
This shows through a gift¬¬––small or large––that they are loved. Stickers or a personalized note can show the language of a gift. A special treat or presents for special occasions can also show they are loved. Even gifts that don’t cost any money can show them they are loved. Ordinary events such as starting school, a new job, or life event can be made special with a computer-generated card. When the client is out of town, bringing back a gift can signify to them that they are an important part of your life. We all go to events where we are given small free or inexpensive perks. Some that have worked well for me are yoga mats, stability balls, and exercise bands. Many expos give you an extra if you just ask for them. When you are on vacation, send them a postcard. Most people of all ages enjoy getting snail mail and a lovely postcard from somewhere else.
This language is shown when you do nice things for them like helping out with their projects and making meals for others. They are the ones who are always helping you clean up after a session. Often, persons with this language will help out at inappropriate times but should be encouraged by praising them, even if their help is not always perfect or at opportune times. They are affirmed in their language when you practice sports together, do an occasional chore for them, or allow them to spend time with you in serving others. The big thing is that the person is not expected to do the task perfectly but is affirmed for their efforts. Clients who benefit from acts of service appreciate when you go the extra mile. Sending them home with an assignment and checking up on their progress mean a lot. Finding out information on something health-related, such as free seminars at a local health grocery store, is also meaningful. I try to see where their interests are and find out what makes them tick. Giving that little extra such as a small reward is also beneficial, in addition to keeping your word. Volunteer activities that you are passionate about and relate to your field are a great place to engage your clients. They love helping and many times their secondary love language is quality time. By having an extra pair of hands, you are making a friend for life.
Before you decide to jump the gun and quit working with someone because they just don’t click, consider implementing the languages. Working with our clients, we often miss the mark. By using these Love Languages with our clients, we can retain our clientele and be able to take them farther as we train them.
The Five Love Languages Websites:
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