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You're Speaking My Love Language

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

What’s your love language? If you are an avid reader of self-help literature or a veteran of marriage counseling, you probably already know if you experience love through words of affirmation, quality time, or another of the five languages. If not, go take Dr. Gary Chapman’s quiz and come back with your answer. We’ll wait.

Got it? The love languages are based on Dr. Chapman’s observations as a marriage counselor, not on MRI brain scans or genetic testing. Still, most people find their results persuasive. But as interesting as it is to know yourself a little better, the real relationship boost comes from learning to speak your beloved’s love language. You may feel adored when your partner holds your hand, but if her language is acts of service, emptying the dishwasher and filling the car up with gas will set her heart a-flutter.

The same principle holds true in employer/employee relationships, but you don’t need to know your direct reports’ love languages; you need to know their motivation languages. Let’s say Susan, a shift manager, is motivated by money and promotions. Sure, she likes praise, but what really gets her out of bed in the morning is her desire to become a general manager and someday start her own livery company. Don and Casey are reservationists she oversees on the weekends. To encourage them to upsell to customers, she offers them free gas cards for each weekend they reach a certain sales goal. Don and Casey appear unenthusiastic and their sales remain flat. Susan can’t understand it: if someone offered her an incentive that was basically money in her pocket, she would do whatever it took to win it. So, what’s going on here?

Susan doesn’t speak Don and Casey’s languages. Don is mostly driven by the need to feel like his work has purpose and significance. Casey feels fulfilled when she can help and support others in a meaningful way. It’s certainly easier to buy a few gas cards and call it a day, but Susan would have more luck if she spoke her employee’s languages. She could write a personal note to Don, praising him for the hard work he does and spelling out how it benefits his coworkers and customers. Casey would respond best to a request for help: Susan could tell her that she needs her assistance in reaching sales goals. Casey would be much more motivated if she believed she were empowering Susan.

Susan was ultimately able to make these changes because she learned to speak Don’s and Casey’s languages, and the way she did this was to learn their personality types. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the motivation Rosetta Stone: it provides a wealth of information about the strengths, preferences, and values of all your employees. Through an online test and one-on-one feedback session, Susan learned that she is an ENTJ, Don is an INFP, and Casey is an ESFJ. Those four letters tell her much of what she needs to know to speak their languages and truly motivate them.

If you would like to improve the relationships between supervisors and employees in your company, contact the LMC Group at We offer MBTI testing, personalized feedback, and training sessions covering a variety of topics.

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