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Reinforcing Relationships: Show Me The Love

  • Published
  • By Maj. Lillian Talavera
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Financial Management
I arrived at The Rock early June, so I had the unique opportunity of experiencing the wing under the leadership of two different commanders. Both established their own sets of priorities for the wing during their tenure. So far, the one constant priority for our senior leaders has been "relationships," so I figured it must be important! Col Hanover's expectation is for Marauders to "foster partnerships." In other words, he wants us to work together and get along. He wants us to be proactive and seek out innovative ways to enhance internal and external collaboration, enabling us to "fight today" and "prepare for tomorrow." Pretty simple, huh? How hard can it be to deal with people?

Most people have heard of the "golden rule," treating others as you would want others to treat you. It is a pretty safe general rule when it comes to treating human beings with the same basic degree of respect and dignity, but when it comes to personal preferences and personalities, intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, treating people the same as you would want them to treat you can back-fire. When it comes to relationships, it would behoove us to think beyond how we would like to be treated and more along the lines of how others would prefer to be treated.

A few months ago, the Chapel sponsored a "Love Languages" workshop based on the bestselling book, The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. The book asserts that everyone has a preferred way of expressing and receiving love. According to Dr. Chapman, the 5 Languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, tangible gifts, and physical touch. Dr. Chapman is also the co-writer of the The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, in which he tailored the same premise in an effort to improve work relationships and create a more positive work environment.

Words of affirmation are used to encourage. They can be verbal and/or written, personal one-on-one communication, or public recognition. Submitting an AF1206 award package for your troop can leave a lasting impression on him/her, regardless of whether they win the award. Quality time can be expressed via one-on-one attention with the supervisor (i.e., mentoring), having a standing lunch showtime at the DFAC, or even just allowing someone to vent their frustrations with a particularly difficult customer. You may feel appreciated if someone helps you with a hot tasker (acts of service), but an offer to help a coworker may result in him/her feeling offended or defensive if that is their least valued language in the workplace. Tangible gifts in the military can be tricky, especially when considering gifting supervisors (which cannot be over $10). The principle is the thought behind the gift. Noticing what people like and buying a small gift (e.g., mini Sprinkles cupcakes), can show that you are paying attention. Assessing "appropriate physical touch" can be particularly crucial, especially in a military environment where personal display of affection is not only discouraged, but it is against regulations. Appropriate physical touch can be a way of celebrating and congratulating folks, which can bring people together (e.g., high fives, fistbumps, handshakes).

Keep in mind that your language of appreciation at work may be different than your love languages with family and friends. Get to know the people around you. Show them the love.