Life Languages

One of the best insightful times of my 'learning' life, was the realisation that we do and experience things quite differently. And its actually amazing to think that it took us so long to realise that - after all, God made us all so diverse, let alone the amazing diversity in the creation in general, that it should've followed that we all would also do, love, think and experience things differently. But it took many years of pain, problems and a good dose of judgementalism, to realise that maybe, just maybe my spouse, my fellow believer, subordinate, might just not experience or do things like I do.

A few books has made an impression on me. The first one was the 5 Love Languages of Gary Chapman. Yes, we fell in love with our partners. Some people will calllove languages it 'chemicals', some will call it the eros part of love (see CS Lewis for an interesting take on the word(s) for love), there where we notice an attractive person and begin with the dating game. But how many times have such 'love stories' not end in divorce? And from Chapman's book, we could make a deduction that it is because we had either forgot or never realised what expresses "love" to my spouse/partner. So the 5 languages followed which said:

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Time
  3. Gifts
  4. Touch
  5. Works or deeds

The next book was a book on one's Spitirual Temperament, by Myra Perrine "What's your God Language...". And again, the same "aha" moment was experienced - we're not experiencing God the same....and don't expect each and everyone to feel fulfilled after a praise and worship, or after a sermon etc., because we have different ways of experiencing our spirituality. No wonder there are different churches and styles,god languages because through Perrine's book, we realised again, we do not experience our relationship with God the same way. Therefore, apart from the benefit of understanding the different congregations, denominations and even styles within the same denomination, many people were "set free" because they realised they are not less spiritual just because they don't like the worship, they actually speak a different "God language". Another benefit is :understanding! By knowing this different spiritualities, should and must allow us to make room for each other: if someone does not experience God like you do....that's perfectly fine. We do not need to be/do (we are not) the same. How many marriages have not suffered because of possible disagreements (and judging) about "not doing / liking the same". The God languages are (read the book for more details):

  1. The Activist
  2. The ascetic
  3. The caregiver
  4. The contemplative
  5. The enthusiast
  6. The intellectual
  7. The naturalist
  8. The sensate
  9. The traditionalist

Gostick & Elton released a book; What motivates me, which was also represented in an article (here). And they followed these insights into the work place. And again my immediate reaction was: its so obvious; we should've realised it long ago. Basically, Gostick & Elton says that, as with love languages, we are driven and feel fulfilled in work differently. They identified 5 "work languages" (see the full article here, or order the book!):

The Achievers are ambitious and enjoy challenges; and like being in charge.what motivates you

The Builders are the supporters, those who like helping others and seeing others develop. Thrive in a strong team.

The Caregivers: These enjoy having fun and caring for family responsibilities are equally important.

The Reward-Driven are those who do because of the reward; money or affirmation.

The Thinkers: This language is for those who are more creative, who love to learn, enjoy a varied routine, and like to feel an adrenaline rush now and then. Most Thinkers get frustrated with red tape and bureaucracy, and want their work to make an impact on the world around them.

The importance of taking notice of these insights is on both sides of the employment-employer relations. The employer will have an opportunity to seek the right person for the job. But even more important, employers will have an opportunity to cast the job profile to suit the employee's "work language". This will not only make the employee a happier and more motivated employee who operates at 'full capacity' without the pain of trying to do/be what they are not because it doesn't fit their 'language'. The employer benefits through the output of the employee - a fulfilled and happy motivated person. Eventually, this will drive profit or achieving strategic objectives. And finally, there will be medical benefits - a happy and fulfilled employee costs less in medical terms.

The one caveat I see in this very timely 'discovery' is insight or foresight on the side of the employer. I base this on my experience with employers and employers' reaction on new trends. I'm worried that the benefits of this discovery will not be reaped. Let me explain....

  1. Its quite some time now that human relations specialists, psychologists, etc. indicated the benefits of flexi-time. I agree, there are valid arguments which employers have noted against flexi-time (which I believe can be managed), but employers did not "jumped on the band wagon" with regards to flexi-time. One of the arguments from employers are always the "policing", or controlling one, but to be in the office does not guarantee work or productivity.
  2. The second reason why I see a caveat of this is: another recent trend that is surfacing is the office-less work-place. Due to the amazing advances in IT, employers can save millions by not hiring office space, office furniture, and all the other infrastructure that goes with providing office space, by allowing some of their staff to work 'in their own office space'.

The first argument from employers against these trends are off course, the control, oversight of employees. But lets be honest, if every job has clear objectives with KPI's, that oversight or control can be managed accordingly. I don't want to go into the merits of these arguments. I'm merely trying to show why I see a caveat of these important discoveries for the work-place. There are clear benefits for employees and employers, but I can hardly see how employers will change direction in casting job profiles and objectives to fit the work language of the employee.

I am convinces that employees, in today's high pace world, can benefit extremely from such changes in the work place.

 NOTE: Although all these different styles (love, spiritualities, work) are very relevant, we must realise that:

  • its not "cast in stone" - we are dynamic creatures who can change over time. You might have been an extrovert who, due to life influences became more introvert.
  • You are not only ONE all the time. Circumstances can influence you to tend to one, which can change.
  • You will probably have more than one love language, more than one spirituality etc. And sometimes, elements of other will feature in your personal style, but you will be able to recognise yourself in one, two or three most of the times.
  • There is no right or wrong, better or worse language. Its who you are!

 

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Grace, Theology, Spiritual Temperaments, Love Languages

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