As the quest for self-improvement continues, I am munching on celery sticks dipped ever so lightly in Lite Ranch dressing… This, in part, because of my choice to stop smoking back in October, 2011. As a result of dropping the smoking habit, I picked up something new… weight… but I’m working on that (thus the celery). But I digress… Back to self improvement:
How we communicate with people, and how we need to be communicated with by others, is an essential part of our personal make-up. For the most part, we are the same person at work and home (at least we should be if we are on the right career path). Chances are, however, our communication styles vary slightly between work and home, and trying to adapt in both situations has everything to do with knowing your audience, whether it’s your boss, your spouse, your children, your best friend, a colleague or whomever else you communicate with regularly.
2 years ago, when I joined SIGMA as their Social Media / Marketing Manager, I completed the DISC survey to discover my personality profile type and use that tool to help communicate effectively with others at work. If you know me, I am a high “DI,” low “SC” – or, I am outwardly social, somewhat impulsive, very enthusiastic, independent, emotional and so on.. I work with folks who are at all points on the DISC spectrum, and understanding my style versus theirs is incredibly helpful in better approaching people, or staffing teams to strike a balance.
This DISC profile can also help you, perhaps, understand some conflicts in the work place. These conflicts probably arise for one of two reasons – either the parties in conflict are so similar they butt heads, or they are so different they cannot adapt to the other’s style of communication. Understanding someones personality composition can go a long way in improving professional communication and accomplishing tasks.
Now let’s get a bit more personal… Love languages – there are 5 (at least according to Dr. Chapman): Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Gifts, Affirming Words. And much like DISC we all have primary love languages. Our primary love language is how we receive or feel love from our significant other, children, friends, etc.
Here’s where it gets tricky…
The way we receive love, is not necessarily how we should express love.
If we truly want someone to feel loved, we need to speak their love language, not our own. Here’s a real life example to help you break it down.
On a Saturday morning, my idea of perfection is sharing quiet time with my husband, reading the paper, Bible, etc. and just quietly being together. To me, quality time is very important, and most definitely one of my primary love languages. On many Saturdays, my husband would get up early, take my car and wash it, wax it, clean the windows, vacuum it, etc. and bring me back a spotless car – but this process can take more than an hour. While I am really grateful that he has lovingly cleaned my car, I would have rather spent that hour sitting with him. Can you guess what one of his love languages might be? Service maybe? Him cleaning my car the way he does so well, is a way that he expresses love – because it’s how he receives it.
The takeaway for me from this was knowing that when he does these things, he wants me to recognize that he loves me, but more importantly, it gives me a solid understanding of how to show my husband that I love him. If my husband travels, I try to make sure he comes home to a spotless house so he knows I love and missed him. If he’s had a bad day at work, I make dinner AND do the dishes. Daily, I make the bed. All these things sound so simple and like they should be done every day, but I now do them with extra care, love and joy – knowing how he will respond. A clean mirror in the bathroom can go a long way in really reflecting my love for my spouse (pun intended).
My husband and I read the 5 Love Languages before we got married a year ago, and it has made a big difference in the way we express love towards each other. I highly recommend this book - and there are several versions of it (check out the website), not necessarily just for couples.
So today, as I sat in on a DISC refresher course at work, I couldn’t help but look around the room to my co-workers and wonder… If I can identify their love (or like) language AND understand their DISC profile – boy that could unlock some really powerful communication! Here’s an example: If I am dealing with a high SC whose love language is Gifts, a bringing them a fun box of paper clips or post-it notes might be a catalyst to improving communications. Marrying these two together could revolutionize the way I communicate! The trick is figuring out which language to speak, but this could be done by experimentation. (Though I strongly suggest you leave the love language “physical touch” out of the work place – probably not a language you should be speaking at work.)
I hope to really think about these things as I interact with the people around me, and have already had a few “aha moments” about some of my coworkers. How can you relate to this? I’d love to hear. By the way – I do love gifts (like promotional pens, hint hint), and an affirming word will go a very long with with me (in social media speak that is to Tweet this article would equal an affirming word.)
Oh and incidentally – as I finished writing this, I finished my generous serving of celery and low-fat dressing and find myself wanting more of something… Ones work on the road to self-improvement is never done… so off I go to find a nutritious snack that will satisfy.