What a relationship book can teach us about positive online communication.
Many of us have read Gary Chapman’s infamous book, The 5 Love Languages, but have we thought about these “five languages” beyond our spouse?
In relationships with friends and co-workers whom we do not see face-to-face every day, communication can be hard, yet it still plays a huge role. Now ask yourself, where does a good chunk of this communication happen?
Online. Where online?
Thankfully, it doesn’t cost us anything but a little bit of time and thoughtfulness to positively communicate to someone through social media. When it comes to communicating with your co-workers and those to whom it would be weird to say, “I love you,” you can think of these more as:
The 5 Appreciation Languages
Obviously, there could be others, but we will focus on five categories listed in order of easiest to hardest to communicate via social media:
1. Words of affirmation – Easiest. Written or spoken, you can communicate encouraging words. Tweet 140 characters of encouragement, post an affirming comment on someone’s Facebook wall or verbally tell them over sites like Skype, Tango and Google video chat. How good would it make you feel if you received a message from your boss or co-worker complimenting you on the good work you are doing?
2. Quality time – Easy. Get on Facebook chat, Skype, Gchat, or any other place where you can talk back and forth giving someone your undivided attention. In the workplace, this might be the equivalent of stopping by a team member’s desk to check in and listen to how their day is going.
3. Gifts – Pretty easy. Although slightly less impressive than an in-person, wrapped-up-nicely-with-a-bow kind of gift, receiving a “gift card” online can be pretty sweet. Yes, it comes across slightly like throwing someone a wad of cash (not the most meaningful gift in the world, to all you husbands), but you can’t beat its usefulness.
Has someone gone above and beyond to make your last project look great? Did they work more hours than was called for? Or do you just want to tell them to keep up the good work? Give them a gift certificate to the movies! There are many ways to give someone a gift card to their favorite store over the Internet, and a good place to start is simply going to Visa or Mastercard. Back in my high school days, Facebook gifts used to be a big thing, and they will soon be coming back by popular demand. Which reminds me, guys—giving your girlfriend a heart-shaped box picture on Facebook for Valentine’s Day is not the same thing as actually giving her a box of chocolates. You need to do both …
4. Acts of service – Sounds simple, but can get a little complicated … as it should! Helping someone by doing something for them can be taxing as it causes you to get outside of your own world, but you will be so glad you did. Giving really is better than receiving—cliché, I know! Sacrificing your own time and efforts for someone else is so rewarding, though! Try it out and see. Ask a team member what is taking a toll on them right now, and see if you can lighten their load. Find out what needs to get done and do it. Does someone need help contacting a list of clients? Can you be a guest blogger on your company blog? Just jump in wherever there is a need!
5. Physical touch – Not easy. Actually, you can’t do this one … The closest you will get is an Internet high-five, and I don’t think you want anyone to catch you slapping your screen … so I will add one in its place:
Clicks of affirmation – Ha, but seriously, this is so true. Clicking the “like” button on someone’s status or picture can be so affirming to them. Thanks to Facebook and Instagram, you can help someone feel valued and appreciated through the click of your mouse or by tapping your thumb on your touch-screen mobile device. Sometimes you don’t want to actually comment or say anything, but you still want to express you “like” their status, picture, video or whatever they’ve posted. Thanks to the “like” button, you can now show someone you like their blog as well! A more recent way to encourage someone, especially on their blog, is to “pin” their content. This shows not only do you like what they have, but you think it’s worth sharing.