I’m guessing that you may know your love language. But I bet you don’t know your love language when it comes to giving feedback.
In case you’re scratching your head in confusion, let me explain.
Your love language is a concept created by Dr. Gary Chapman. As a counselor, he noticed that people inadvertently, unknowingly, were demonstrating their love and affection to their partners, in the way that they preferred to receive love and affection. This is great if your partner has the same language, but leads to all sorts of complications, hurt feelings, and conflict if the love languages don’t match.
One person can be left feeling that they’re demonstrating their love all the time, while their partner feels completely unacknowledged because the languages don’t match.
The five love languages are:
- Words of affirmation.
- Quality time.
- Physical touch.
- Acts of service.
- Receiving gifts.
For example, if your preference is words of affirmation (receiving verbal compliments) and your partner gives you affirmation by wanting to spend quality time together, there’s a mismatch. A mismatch could cause conflict and misunderstanding because one type of love language is flying under the radar (e.g. unacknowledged) by the other.
Partner A could be frustrated, thinking they’ve been giving lots of affirmation while Partner B hasn’t acknowledged it because it’s a mismatch in ‘language.’
Think of it like you walking into a store to buy a loaf of bread. If you speak English and the storekeeper speaks Swahili then while you’re both communicating, there’s no comprehension.
And so it is with giving and receiving feedback.
Giving and receiving feedback is one of the most requested skill-building requests I get. When I survey teams it’s always in the top three skills when teams rate what they need.
Just as we tend to affirm our partner in the love language we’re unconsciously wanting to receive, and there can be hurt feelings, confusion, and misunderstanding when the languages don’t match, so it is with giving and receiving feedback.
I may think I’m giving lots of feedback but if it’s in a different ‘language’ than my teammate, then it may fly under their radar.
I have some stats to back that up.
In my team surveys with participants from around the globe, there is a difference between how much people were giving feedback and recognition and how much people were receiving feedback and recognition. Because technically those numbers should be roughly the same.
Yet they’re not.
On average, people score a 3.9 out of 5 when they’re asked to rate “I receive recognition for my work.”
Yet those same folks score an average of 4.6 out of 5 when asked to rate “I give others recognition for their work.”
That’s almost a 120% difference.
Clearly there’s a lot of recognition falling through the cracks into the abyss.
So what’s a good team leader or individual to do?
Know your love language when it comes to giving and receiving feedback. And then figure out what your team members’ love languages are.
Then adjust your feedback accordingly.
Because remember, you’re naturally biased towards giving people feedback the way you like to receive it.
How does one get this magical knowledge? Easy peasy. Take my super quick survey here.
Then rest on your laurels as you gain more self-awareness of your own feedback style and begin to shift how you give feedback to others, making feedback land with more impact, and resonance. Your team will thank you for it. Yeah you!
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead
- All sorts of hilarity can follow with mistranslations, like these folks who couldn’t remember their words.
- Get your team members to take the survey and share your results.
P.S. Let’s stay connected. Free weekly coaching by email on how to use humanity and humour to problem solve, right here.