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How To Use The 5 Love Languages To Motivate a Team

People are humans, and humans have feelings. When we are at work, we want to feel passionate about the job we are doing, understood, respected, and appreciated. Appreciation is a crucial need for most humans. When individuals feel appreciated, they go above and beyond. Yet, everyone experiences appreciation differently. Here is where the five love languages come in. Knowing how your team members best experience appreciation will help you better motivate and lead them. Following are tips on how to use the five love languages to lead a team. 

Before we get started, let’s look at a quick overview of the Five Love Languages. Dr. Gary Chapman, a respected author and speaker, wrote The Five Love Languages in 1995. This book speaks to who we are as humans, and its continued relevance is proven in the over 11 million copies the book has sold. The book basically says that we all speak a different love language and that though your partner speaking a different love language from you may leave you feeling unloved, it doesn’t mean they don’t’ love you. It just means that they might be expressing it in a way that doesn’t speak directly to you. He then helps you to understand your love language as well as your partners and ways to speak to each other.  

Descriptions of the 5 love languages from the book: 

Words of Affirmation

“This language uses words to affirm other people.” Example: You shower your partner in verbal compliments and let them know how much you care about them through words. 

Quality Time

“This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention. Example: You spend a lot of one-on-one time with the other person, whether you’re going on dates or hanging out and cooking at home together.

Receiving Gifts

“For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift.” Example: You buy presents for the other person to show them that you were thinking of them and that you care.

Acts of Service

“For these people, actions speak louder than word”

Physical Touch

“To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch.”

Now, clearly these are written for relationships. I bet they did resonate with you though, and that’s because they also speak to us as humans. Now, let’s look at how they might help you to lead and encourage a team. 

Using the 5 love languages to Motivate a team 

Words of Affirmation

Some folks need consistent verbal affirmation. For these team members, praise them out loud and often. Compliment not only their outcomes but also their efforts. Has Bob been preparing for a big presentation? Tell him his focus is admirable. Or is Sally, diligently working on new code? Tell her that her diligence is fantastic. Then, once the act is complete praise the outcome. 

Acts of Service

For those who feel appreciated through acts of service, help them. After a meeting, are they normally the ones to clean up? Don’t let them do it alone help them to clean up. In preparing for a big presentation do they normally print all the copies? Offer to prepare the meeting for them so they can focus on the outcome. 

Receiving Gifts

If you have a team member who values gifts, think of the small things you can give such as a hand written note, a $5 coffee card, a fun pencil/pen or even a pack of stickers. Keep it small and repeatable. 

Quality Time

Take 15-30 minutes to connect. Grab a coffee and chat with this person, or after they’ve accomplished something take time to ask them how they think it went and what they are looking forward to next. 


Two words, high-five. This one can be tricky for the workplace but it needed be. High Fives are you friend here and if something really stellar happens, go in for the high ten. 

Putting This To Use

Looking at the 5 Love Languages as a manual for leading and encouraging teams through the lens of appreciation we have now have a new leadership tool in our belt. Now, think about each individual member of your team, can you name their language of appreciation? If you aren’t sure, ask them. It does need to be awkward, you can simply ask: 

After you’ve done an amazing presentation how would prefer to be recognized, if you could choose from one of the following:

A straight forward “thank you, you did an amazing job”

Help cleaning up the conference room 

A Hand written thank you card 

20 minutes of one-on-one time to debrief 

A high-five

This will give you some insight into how they like to be appreciated. Now that you know how each of your team members want to be appreciated write out a plan for speaking to them in their love language. 

Leading a team is skill we all continually develop. One of the most important parts of that skill is how we motivate others. Using the the 5 Love Languages to help motivate through appreciation is a tool that will help inspire teams and make better leaders. 

P.S. You can also use The Five Love Languages to get ahead at work. Click here to find out how. 

P.P.S. How do you motivate your team? I’d love to know. Please comment below!

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