The Love Languages of the Remote Team

Here at Relativity, our marketing team recently had the opportunity to take the DiSC Assessment. Like many workplace quizzes of its kind, DiSC is a kind of personality test for professional use.

As everyone has a different personality type, each individual responds differently to work situations. The idea behind taking the assessment is that understanding your own DiSC profile—and your colleagues’—helps establish strong working relationships across your team.

And doesn’t that seem reminiscent of "The 5 Love Languages & e-Discovery"?

Last time we visited this concept, back in 2018, the world looked a lot different. So today, we’re digging into the love languages again—but with two twists. First, how might you use your colleagues’ DiSC assessments to guess at their love language? And second, how can you manage all this giving from afar?

Why Think about Love Languages at Work?

DiSC stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. Organizations use the assessment to optimize team collaboration by teaching effective communication and relationship building strategies. Meanwhile, the 5 Love Languages were developed to strengthen personal relationships. Quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, and physical touch are the program’s identified methods to express affection, and everyone has inherent preferences for what types of love they prefer to give and receive. (You can take both assessments with free online versions.)

In many ways, DiSC is the workplace love language equivalent. And, as Kristy Esparza wrote in our 2018 post on the subject, “romantic relationships aren’t the only ones that can benefit” from understanding different love languages.

Both assessments can be used in everyday exchanges with your coworkers, helping improve both professional and personal environments—perhaps now more than ever. After all, everyone could use extra love thrown their way in the throes of a pandemic and a distributed work environment.

Just as we each react differently with work and family, each personality profile is likely struggling in different ways which the virtual world. But you can help your team—and yourself—shake off a bit of this burden and connect more meaningfully.

How DiSC Profiles and Love Languages Might Match Up

After taking the DiSC assessment with my team, it occurred to me that these profiles define strengths, preferences, and room for improvement that can be nicely supported by a good grasp of the love languages, too. Here’s a quick look at what I mean.

D = Quality Time

People who are high Ds like to be ... well, dominant. Aptly named, they like to be in control. They see the big picture and don’t get bogged town in the details. While they thrive when faced with intellectual challenges, a pandemic is on another level—and something they can’t control.

In the midst of so much change and unpredictability, one of the few things we can control is how we spend our time. So let the D in your life project manage and take the lead as much as possible. This is a great way for leaders to offer stretch opportunities that will feel rewarding for their reports.

But friends don’t let friends who are high Ds forget the most important quality time: self-care.

I = Gifts

An influencer’s love language is often gifts. They are talkative, creative, persuasive, and eternal optimists. In a pandemic, these extroverts are struggling—but they’ll try to hide it under their positivity.

The best gift you can give a high I personality is the ability to express themselves. Try not to cancel or rearrange meetings on them without notice, as it may be received as taking away much-needed social time. Additionally, invite them to help brainstorm on any project they can—talking through creative ideas can often be reinvigorating for an I.

Another, more tangible gift? Surprise them with art supplies so they can flex those creative muscles in even more ways.

S = Acts of Service

Let’s show the peacekeepers some appreciation. High S personality types like calmness and never want to rock the boat. So, naturally, this pandemic has turned their stable world upside-down.

Many of these colleagues may find themselves wanting to make sure everyone on the team is happy, which can mean they’re over-committing themselves to help out. But they are rarely ones to ask for help. It’s imperative that, if you’re managing or working closely with a high S, you reach out to see how you can take something off their plate. It can also help to keep tabs on their accomplishments, and congratulate and recognize them when it’s warranted—because they often allow themselves to fade into the background rather than advertising their own efforts.

These gestures will go a long way, but another key tip? Have these exchanges with subtlety and via email when you can, because type S colleagues prefer to have time to digest and respond to feedback and requests rather than being put on the spot.

C = Touch(points)

Remember the Reach Out and Touch Someone ad campaign from AT&T? Think of that with a C personality type. They like familiarity and tend toward perfectionism. And the most unfamiliar place to be at the moment is the middle of a pandemic.

While you can’t reach out and offer a reassuring pat on the shoulder, you can provide consistent and thoughtful touchpoints for the high Cs on your team. Ambiguous projects just add stress for these folks, so making sure tasks and goals are clearly outlined will ease their mind. Cs like to be reassured that things are running smoothly and are prone to self-criticism, so checking in on them can help keep things in order.

Remember, though, that high Cs aren’t about small talk—they’re about attention to detail and reliability. So make sure your touchpoints are intentional and efficient to ensure a positive impact.

Everybody = Words of Affirmation

The fifth love language is words of affirmation, which aligns most with both S and C types—the often quieter members of the team who won’t toot their own horn, but appreciate recognition and validation of their hard work.  

But let’s face it: Amidst global unrest and separated by the vastness of geography and the internet, every personality type can use words of affirmation right now.

So whether it’s “thank you,” “great work,” or “we’ll get through this,” a verbal hug will go a long way. Over the last year, we’ve learned just how important human connection really is—so whether you use the love languages, DiSC, or another model to guide your awareness and effort in service to your team, make your relationships count.

Tammie Josifovic is a member of the corporate communications team at Relativity, where she focuses on supporting and lifting up our community.

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