What You Need To Do To Improve Your Relationships

Written on the 7 February 2010 by Maurine Patten [

What You Need To Do To Improve Your Relationships
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Relationships are a part of everyone's life. A large part of my professional life has focused on helping people have healthy, happy relationships whether it is with their spouse, partner, children, parents, friends, or co-workers.

Having healthy relationships is also an important sign of Emotional Intelligence. How do you express caring, appreciation and/or love to the people who are special to you?

In my experience, usually people are putting effort into saying or doing the things they hope will make the other person feel appreciated and/or loved. However, unless you know what makes the other person feel valued, the effort is wasted. You are not connecting. If you are not connecting, the message is lost; your effort is in vain.

Gary Chapman believes there are five different patterns for communicating caring and appreciation. He wrote The 5 Love Languages and two more books which apply his theory to children and teens.

According to Chapman, the five different ways people give and receive messages of caring and appreciation are:

1. Time - This has to be quality time in which you give undivided attention. You might think of it as one-on-one time doing activities that emphasize togetherness more than "what" you do.
2. Touch - While this is not appropriate in work settings (except for a hand shake), it is important in families, especially at times of crisis. Cultures vary on how much touch is appropriate. In some cultures, people are offended if greetings do not include a hug or some form of touch.
3. Affirmation - Encouraging words inspire and give courage. In addition, words of appreciation are especially meaningful in the work setting. Supervisors and team leaders need to be able to identify and be comfortable giving genuine feedback about employees' strengths.
4. Gifts - These are visual symbols of appreciation or caring. It can mean "you were thinking of me." It is important to not get carried away with this area to the extent that you disregard the other languages. Gifts may be made or purchased and are especially important in a time of crisis. Many of our soldiers carry with them small gifts that remind them of being loved and valued.
5. Acts of Service - These are things you do for someone else because you care or love that person. We might think of these actions as "giving a helping hand."
We all have a primary love language. Most of us have a secondary or back-up language which makes us bilingual. We tend to do for others whatever our primary or secondary language is. If it happens to also be that person's primary or secondary way of feeling appreciated and loved, the communication hits the bull's eye. If not, we did not achieve our goal.

It is important for each person to know his or her primary language as well as the other person's primary language. When you send a message using the other person's primary or secondary love language, you are giving a warm and loving message that will help that person feel appreciated and valued by you.

Action Step: Determine what your primary and secondary love language is. Then see if you can discover your partner's, children's, and best friend's love language.

Author:Maurine Patten [