My love language is gifting, and I do it a lot. In addition to some wild gifts I’ve given over the years, I now send so many Eternal Fleur boxes because they last a year, and people think of me. Having a love language is a great way to form friendships, bond with a work-wife, or stand out to your boss. Little signs of love will go a long way in your career. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, and you’ll get ahead by being thoughtful, considerate, and kind. Here are some tips about how to use your love language:
Small gifts can be significant, especially when sent at unexpected but deserving times, such as when a colleague gets a promotion or someone you know sells a book deal. You don’t want to go over the top, but a small gesture of acknowledgment shows that you took the time to celebrate someone else’s success. Don’t buy clothes or anything that seems too intrusive but give something that feels specific to them. If the person is a writer, maybe send them a nicely-bound notebook. Gifts don’t have to be in product form either. Taking someone out for a celebratory drink will show that you want to acknowledge their success and get to know them better.
When you use your love language, make sure that it feels authentic. Think of your love language as part of your personal brand. Is this something you would say to someone? Would you pick out this card? If you haven’t thought much about your personal brand, give it some thought. It probably won’t come overnight but it’s good to think about it. Then, whenever you use your love language in a professional capacity, make sure it aligns with your brand. Maybe part of your branding is that you love all-things-cupcakes. So, bake cupcakes for people! And if you’re feeling like you’re forcing your love language, then stop and revisit it. Your love language can evolve or change over time, so be flexible with it and make sure it reflects your personality.
It’s the Little Things
Using your love language doesn’t have to take a lot of effort. Sometimes a simple text message can be one of the kindest gestures, especially now. Checking in on someone will go a long way in making that person feel loved and supported. This is also a great way to connect with your boss on a more personal level. If you ordered takeout from a restaurant you know they like, send them a quick note about it. It will show that you remembered a personal detail and that you two have something in common. The great news is that this type of love language doesn’t require spending any money and humanizes you if you’re struggling to get your boss to see you as someone other than just an employee.
Love All Around
Don’t just direct your love language to the people higher up than you on the pay scale. Remember the assistants, the people in the mailroom, and the receptionist. If you only give gifts to the top dogs at work, it will seem as if you’re just brown-nosing. Plus, assistants and other people lower on the ladder have tough jobs, work hard, and deserve recognition and support. And you never know, someday you might need a favor from them. It’s always a good idea to use the same love language for everyone in the workplace. Don’t give preferences.
One of the best ways to use love language professionally is actually to use love language. Talk to people. If you see someone in the break room or on Slack, compliment them on their idea during the board meeting. Be aware of how you address that person to keep it as low pressure for them as possible. If the person is shy, try saying that you enjoyed hearing from them during the meeting and agree with the point they made. This will make them feel less on the spot and more like they have an ally in you. Maybe you work with someone who takes pride in how she organizes her calendar. Tell her you’re impressed with it (if you are). You don’t want to over-do it with the compliments, but if it feels like the right time to say something nice, don’t hesitate!
When it comes to love language, less is more. If you start giving gifts for every great email or complimenting someone several times a day on their work, it can begin to feel contrived. You want to use your love language when it feels appropriate and most authentic. Having a love language is essential for not only building and strengthening workplace relationships but also helping you stand out. Figure out yours then use it wisely.
A version of this article was originally published on Forbes.