Monday, May 20, 2024

are we supposed to just accept “contact” as an “appreciation language” at work? — Ask a Supervisor

A reader writes:

My work is having us learn concerning the “5 languages of appreciation within the office” prematurely of one in every of our quarterly all-hands conferences, the place we could have “focus on and share.” From what I learn, it looks like it’s a reasonably direct try to use the “5 love languages” to the office. Even ignoring my discomfort with the 5 love languages as a consequence of its homophobic roots, I can’t recover from that they stored bodily contact as one of many languages. They sofa it in phrases like “work applicable,” however it nonetheless looks like encouraging folks to bodily contact others (or settle for being touched) within the title of displaying appreciation.

As is likely to be apparent, bodily contact is just not my “work language of appreciation.” As a substitute, bodily contact from coworkers/managers will seemingly trigger me to completely shut down and will certainly destroy my skill to work with the individual sooner or later. However what if it’s a coworker’s most well-liked language? How do I preemptively get throughout “don’t contact me” with out seeming dismissive of different folks’s preferences? And will I say one thing about it on this assembly?

Once I first learn your letter, I used to be certain you have been unsuitable and so they hadn’t stored “contact” as an appreciation language within the office model of the e-book franchise (which was initially created for romantic relationships)! Absolutely they wouldn’t have.

I checked. They did.


I searched additional. They cite issues like handshakes, fist bumps, excessive fives, a pleasant squeeze on the shoulder, or a pat on the again. Okay, not the worst, and a few individuals are comfy with that form of contact at work. However I’m as astonished as you’re that they stored it within the office model of their framework.

You already know what makes folks really feel appreciated at work? MONEY.

Not simply cash! Loads of individuals are sad in well-paying jobs as a result of they really feel their contributions are by no means acknowledged and their efforts go unappreciated. Different types of recognition matter too, like reward for a job properly finished (given publicly or privately, relying on the individual’s preferences) and rewards that replicate efficiency (like alternatives to tackle extra attention-grabbing work or higher-profile tasks or skilled improvement or no matter is acceptable and the individual really needs).

However there isn’t a nice thriller right here that we have to clear up with a “5 languages” framework.

Their full record of appreciation languages for work is: phrases of affirmation (that’s reward), high quality time (that’s listening to the individual and ensuring they’ve time with their supervisor), acts of service (serving to folks with their work), tangible presents (cash or in any other case), and what they’re calling “applicable bodily contact.”

It’s actually only a advertising ploy — the “5 love languages” e-book had large success and so now they’re making an attempt to shoehorn the idea into different contexts to promote extra books.

I bit the bullet and purchased the e-book so I might see what they’re really saying about contact. They acknowledge that it’s controversial, that some folks don’t need it in any respect, and that it may be “problematic.” They point out that as they have been testing their theories, quite a few managers “repeatedly expressed concern” concerning the inclusion of contact (no shit!). They are saying that it was not often anybody’s major language of appreciation at work (once more, no shit!). However they go on to say that they consider affirming touches could be significant expressions of appreciation to some colleagues.

I nonetheless say advertising ploy, however they didn’t ask me.

As for what to do, I strongly doubt you’re going to be pushed to offer or settle for contact that you just’re not comfy with. However in the event you want some ammunition, the e-book itself says: “How are you going to decide which coworkers might view bodily contact as an expression of appreciation? Observe the habits of your colleagues. Do they often pat others on the again, give excessive fives, or hug others? In that case, you possibly can discover whether or not receiving an affirming contact from you’d be obtained as an expression of appreciation. Sometimes, these people who freely contact others in an affirming method are the identical people who would welcome affirming touches from others. Alternatively, in the event you by no means see a colleague contact others and … their physique stiffens when somebody touches them, then you’ll know that bodily contact won’t be obtained as appreciation.”

I don’t assume we should always ever be “exploring” contact at work to the purpose the place we have to see somebody’s physique “stiffen when somebody touches them” (and I believe there’s lots extra unsuitable with that quoted paragraph), however they’re fairly clearly saying that folks shouldn’t be required to offer or settle for bodily contact at work, no matter what anybody else’s “appreciation language” could also be. So if pushed at this assembly, you possibly can cite that — however I believe you’re extra prone to discover quite a lot of coworkers reacting like you’re (and it sounds just like the e-book’s authors discovered that too).

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