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All Places > The Communication COMMunity > Blog > 2019 > February

What's Your Love Language?


Have you ever received a gift from a friend or romantic partner, only to wish you could spend more time with them instead? Have you ever given someone a hug only to find that physical touch makes them uncomfortable?


According to Dr. Gary Chapman's Five Love Languages, that may be due to a predisposition in how we prefer to receive and give love to others. Though this book was originally published in 1995, new editions and online quizzes have ensured that the concept is still highly discussed in academia, friend circles, and (of course) social media.


For those unfamiliar with love languages, the theory suggests that there are five main ways in which we show our affection for others, and that we each have a preference for both how we receive affection, and how we give affection.


For example, if you enjoy baking cookies for your friends, that doesn't necessarily mean that you want your friends to bake for you in exchange. Instead, you might appreciate having your friends offer to help pick up groceries, or hearing them praise your baking skills. Of course, while your friends might be grateful for the time you took to make them, they might have preferred that you spent that time with them instead.



These individual preferences can lead to communication problems, especially when we unknowingly prioritize our relationship goals over theirs (#relationshipgoals, anyone?). When you bring your partner out to a nice restaurant, you may consider that a sign of love, but they might be wishing you'd just clean the kitchen instead. 



Whether or not you subscribe to this theory, it's important to consider the ways in which we express our affection for others, and make sure that we're paying attention to their preferences for how they want to be treated. It's also important to recognize how we want to be treated. Once we recognize and communicate those distinctions, we can ensure that we're giving and receiving love in the ways in which our loved ones - including ourselves - deserve.


See below for a list and a brief description of each of the love languages discussed in Chapman's book. Of course, you'll likely enjoy expressions of love in all five categories, but the theory of the five languages is that there are one or two you respond to more than the others, whether or not you realize it right away.


Words of Affirmation - Verbal or written communication that encourages, validates, and offers active support and appreciation. Examples: "I love you," "I really admire you," "I'm here for you."


Acts of Service - Helpful, thoughtful deeds that show your attention to their needs and your willingness to help ease their burdens.  Examples: Offering to help with their cleaning or cooking, driving, or running errands.


Receiving Gifts - The thought, effort, and care that goes into the choosing of a gift can mean a great deal to those receiving it. 



Quality Time - The act of giving someone your undivided attention (that means not looking at your phone, but at your partner) while talking or participating in an activity together. 


Physical Touch Physical touches like hugging, kissing, or even holding hands can prove a powerful way of providing support, attention, and a feeling of togetherness. 



What do you think of these five love languages? Can you think of other examples of showing someone you care about them? How might understanding another's primary love language help you improve your relationship with them?


Whatever your primary and secondary love language, I hope you have a great Valentine's Day!


That ubiquitous rhetorical query “know what I’m sayin’”? – which actually shifts the real work of comprehension from the speaker to the listener – has become a motto for too many of the young people whose work I grade. Along with hours devoted to citing comma faults, run-ons and wacky elliptical sentence structures, I spend a great deal of time wandering through the thickets of convolution, imprecision and excess that are growing in my students’ heads. Exchanges with colleagues in communications and other disciplines indicate that, as I suspected, I am not alone. Is it just that K-12 educational priorities don’t appear to be articulating with post-secondary approaches and expectations? Is there also a cultural shift among young people underway? Is intuitionreplacing explication? The writing of my young charges is plagued with wordiness and disorganization.




America’s third president is attached to the quote “The most valuable of talents is never using two words when one will do.” The pithiness of this remark models Jefferson’s stated principle, which might also be rendered, “say what you mean with precision and dispatch.”  


My students’ overwrought renderings might point to a lack of proficiency or imprecision in word choices. But I feel it is more complicated than substituting “rapidly” for “very fast” or “because” for the dreaded prolixity of “due to the fact that.” All of these are encoding choices that all writers wrestle with.


I suspect my students’ problems are also rooted in idea formation, the step that precedes encoding in the familiar simple communication model. Students struggle with written expression partly because they are inexperienced wordsmiths but most often because they’re not sure what they want to say.


Sometimes while reading responses to prompts, I feel as though I’d walked in on a student mid-cogitation, before the idea had set and settled.


“What is going on here?”


My markings tend to be less about “correcting” structural faults and more about “coaxing” or “teasing” out the passage’s purpose. Rather than jot “this is what you might say ....” on a section made muddy by verbosity, I highlight or circle the passage (I still prefer pen and paper grading) and insert in the margin, “What is it you’re saying here?” or “Rethink this section. Your point gets lost.” Thus putting the responsibility of comprehension where it belongs -- on the writer.


I often direct students back to their thesis statement – provided one has been crafted – and ask how the highlighted passage relates to what the statement promises. Does it add a dimension, elaborate on an earlier point, support an argument? In conferences student frequently admit they’re unsure.


“So why write so much?”


“I’m trying to meet the assignment word count” was too often the response.


An idea without substance or concreteness is easily lost in the woods, I’ll say. Certainty can hack through acres of wordy brush. “Go back and think some more.”




I frequently find myself following my student’s meandering prose into a thicket so dense I have difficulty determining where I am or how I came to be where I was. Lost.


Occasionally the brush has been made thick by compound, complex and compound-complex sentences that are overly burdened with subpoints, caveats, asides and parentheticals that don’t deepen the argument or expand the point. They simply radiate without clear direction or inclination. They are, as the kids say, “just some random stuff.”


Outlines are not an absolute cure for such disorganization – having an idea with layers that merit exploration is the true cure – but charting a course before pushing off from shore surely can’t be a bad idea if one intends to do more than just paddle around, if one intends to actually go from point A to point D.


Aside from forcing a sequencing onto ideas, outlining, to my mind, helps the writer-thinker determine if the trip is, indeed, worth taking. If, in fact, point A is substantively different from points B, C and D.  If there are no identifiable or palpable distinctions between the points then the journey would be “pointless.”


If, on the other hand, these points are related but different, and markedly so, then an outline would be useful in laying out the comparison, the pros and cons, the chronology, the evolution or the flow. That is, an outline would be a useful map from thesis statement to conclusion.


No, you can’t have “good writing” without “good mechanics.” But, more fundamentally, you can’t have “writing” without “thinking,” for as celebrated author David McCollough says, “Writing isthinking. To write well is to think clearly. That's why it's so hard.”  (My emphasis.) If our students are reminded of this and are coached through the fog of their hazy thinking they might actually find their writing more productive and enjoyable.


Know what I’m sayin’?

Video is a crucial feature across all Communication courses, and Macmillan wants to make it easy to implement, effective for students, and, hopefully, fun to use as an instructor!


The Video Assessment Program - powered by GoReact - is a feature that we're going to revisit many times this year on Tech Tuesdays, so we'll start off with just a brief introduction today, and go into more detail as the semester goes on!


The program allows both instructor and students to record video, from a laptop, video camera, or mobile device, directly into LaunchPad, where time based comments and rubrics can be used to leave feedback and provide assessment. Comments and grades appear right alongside the submitted video!


As always, if you'd like to learn more about LaunchPad and/or the Video Assessment Program, feel free to sign up for a demo with your Learning Solutions Specialist: 


Here it is in action!