There’s a book called The 5 Love Languages. The basic premise is that in order to have a successful marriage or romantic relationship, one should “speak” in their partner’s language rather than their own.
This is true in any sort of relationship, romantic or otherwise.
When I was speaking this past week to a group of teachers on the communication styles as described by Extended DISC, a participant asked if it was phony and disingenuous to make small talk if making small talk is not really said person’s style (or basically to do anything that isn’t one’s natural style). It’s a common misconception that it’s fake or cheap or somehow not genuine if we put on the charade of acting in a way that we don’t naturally embody. My guess as to why people feel this way is because it feels so awkward—especially at first—that it can’t possibly be authentic.
But reality is that we often get in our own way and justify it as being true to ourselves. However, if we are only focusing on ourselves and what we find effective, we are easily missing at least 50 percent of the communication equation.
Just as how a romantic partner feels empowered and cared about when we speak in their “love language” as opposed to our own, our professional connections receive similar benefit when we communicate with them in a way that is meaningful and resonant to them. Even if it makes us a bit uncomfortable, even if it we don’t always get it 100 percent right, trying to meet someone in the middle is genuine and it is the sincere way to communicate.
While you may not necessarily love the people with whom you work, you can build stronger trust and teamwork when you make an effort to speak their language.