How to Show Appreciation to an Employee or Colleague on Valentine’s Day Using the Five Love Languages

Valentine’s Day is coming up and you might be thinking to yourself, wouldn’t it be nice to share some holiday appreciation with an employee or colleague? Yes, of course!! Who doesn’t love being appreciated? But before you rush out and buy candy or chocolate in bulk, first consider your work Valentine’s love language so that you can appreciate them in the way that resonates the most.

The 5 Love Languages

According to Gary Chapman, Ph.D., a counselor, speaker, and the author of the New York Times bestseller “The 5 Love Languages”, “different people with different personalities give and receive love in different ways.” Understanding the different love languages unlocks a pathway to communication you may have never considered. Like being able to speak multiple linguistic languages, knowing the love languages allows you to connect with others in a way they understand most. You can tailor your acts of appreciation to the individual to help guarantee they are truly received.

The 5 love languages are:

1. Words of affirmation. Use words to affirm a person’s positive qualities, attributes, and actions.

2. Gifts. Receiving heartfelt gifts makes this person feel loved.

3. Quality time. This person wants undivided attention.

4. Acts of service. Doing things for this person will speak louder than words.

5. Physical touch. This person feels most loved through physical touch.

Learn more about each love language here.

How to identify your work Valentine’s love language

In this podcast episode on the 5 love languages, Gary Chapman recommends the following four approaches for determining a person’s love language:

1. Observe how the person is interacting with other people

2. Observe what the person tends to complain about.

3. Observe what the person typically requests.

4. Have the person take the Love Language Quiz.

Take a minute and try to determine what your favorite colleague’s love language is based on your past interactions or observations of them. If all else fails, ask them to take the quiz.

How to express appreciation for your work Valentine in their love language

Now that you understand what the five love languages are, and more specifically, what your work Valentine’s love language is, it’s time for you to determine how you will show them appreciation on Valentine’s Day. The blog post “The 5 love languages at work: how to choose the right words for team success” is instructive here.

If your work Valentine’s love language is words of affirmation, identify specific actions that you appreciate or how their work positively impacts other stakeholders. For example, “I appreciate how you _________” or “You excel at _______ and that helps us to __________.”

If your work Valentine’s love language is gifts, consider what type of gift they would find valuable. Then, when you give the gift to them, share the meaning behind it. Remember, it’s not about the value. People whose love language is gifts typically don’t care about receiving something expensive but rather about receiving something meaningful. 

If your work Valentine’s love language is quality time, invite them to lunch or coffee to check in, ask for their feedback, or work on a collaborative event. Keep in mind that the quality time does not have to be in-person or extensive. Even five minutes of time can go a long way so long as it’s focused on the individual.

If your work Valentine’s love language is acts of service, do something beyond the duties listed in your job description for them. For example, lighten their load for a day by offering to carry out simple, low-level tasks for them. Buying breakfast or lunch for a team meeting also demonstrates appreciation for a work Valentine with this love language.

If your work Valentine’s love language is physical touch, a great way to show them appreciation is by giving them sensory-friendly gifts such as a plush blanket, squeeze ball, or a gift certificate for the spa. High-fives and handshakes go a long way too.

Customizing your Valentine’s Day gift to your colleague’s love language will ensure that they fully experience your appreciation. For more about building positive relationships with employees and colleagues, subscribe to our monthly newsletter.