It’s February, Valentine’s month, and rather appropriately, our theme of the month here at AK Child and Family is Communication. As any relationship counselor worth their salt will tell you, good communication is the bedrock of a healthy relationship. This is true of romantic relationships, and it’s equally true of the relationships we have with our colleagues, our supervisors and the students and families we care for.
Weaving together themes of love, collaboration, and communication, our Training & Staff Development Department borrowed from Dr. Gary Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages” www.5lovelanguages.com to have some fun, learn about each other, and practice Open Communication at our recent monthly “All Staff Meeting.” Chapman holds that there are 5 “love languages,” or 5 different preferred ways of showing love, appreciation, or affirmation. Those “love languages” are:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Quality Time Together
A quick questionnaire about things like donuts in the break-room versus someone to help you with that temperamental photocopier, divided our staff into groups based on common “love languages.” In the workplace, we’re inclined to spend all our time with the same few people, so it was refreshing to have people in new groups, with colleagues from diverse departments, backgrounds, and age-groups, yet still with something fundamental in common.
Newly-bonded over their love of having someone else take out their trash, or their collective disdain for random high-fives, our “Love Language Teams” made their way through a series of Open Communication Challenge Stations. Houses were built co-operatively and silently out of multi-colored m&ms; puzzles were assembled, scavenger hunts for heavy keys and old coins ensued, and individuals shared the features of Open Communication that were most important to them.
It was wonderful to see our compassionate and hardworking staff building work relationships through communicating playfully and openly with each other. And, ultimately, our students and families benefit when they are served by a cohesive team.
Our “All Staff Meeting” came to an end with a drawing for which staff teams (now returned to our departmental silos) would follow which musher in the great Iditarod race. Now, what might a sled dog’s love language be? My money’s on Physical Touch.
Bulletin board at our Community Programs campus, highlighting Love Languages.
All Staff Meeting & Training in early February