Five Love Languages – Acts of Service

Communication is the foundation of our emotions and experiences. This 5-part series has a new “language” discussed once a month. These are based on Gary Chapman’s book series, Five Love Languages. Each post will highlight a particular language and some suggestions on ways to meet that need for yourself and others.  In October, I shared Words of Affirmation. In November, I shared Quality Time. This month I’ll be talking about Acts of Service, those things we DO that show we care.

Before we get into that, let’s review:

These are the Five Languages:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Gifts
  • Touch

We all have a primary “language” we speak and need to have communicated to us in order to feel loved in our personal relationships and appreciated in our workplace.  The key is finding out your own language, as well as those you have relationships with in your personal and professional life.  These discoveries will help you communicate and dramatically improve the relationships in your life.  October’s post talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers.  These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why.  November’s post discussed Quality Time which is based on focused attention on, or with, the other person. Remember, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal life and business life so view all the languages from two sets of perspectives.  If you’re looking for a little less conversation and a little more action, let’s roll…

The core of Acts of Service lies less in word and more in deed.  It requires action – doing something for this language speaker.

Personally, this could include a back rub or a home cooked meal, clearing the snow off the car or doing the grocery shopping.  It might be supporting a charity event important to a friend or planting flowers for an elderly parent. Like the other languages, the preferred act is determined by the recipient.  Any old act of service just won’t do, it has to be this language speaker’s preference.  The key to speaking this language, especially if it’s not your primary one, is to provide these acts of service out of love.  If you provide it out of obligation you have completely wasted your time and likely caused more damage.  So just like Words of Affirmation, your enthusiasm and gift of service must be authentic and given out of love.

The professional examples can look VERY different from the personal ones.  In the workplace, you could offer to help out a co-worker struggling to meet a deadline or complete an overwhelming task.  Also, volunteering to stay late and assist someone in another department that you know is currently very short-handed.  Putting in a good word for a hardworking co-worker or employee works too. What a great opportunity to extend the olive branch to the ornery supervisor too stubborn to ask for help, but would appreciate the offer.  This could be mentoring that newbie employee and offering some tips you learned on your climb up the ranks.  Remember, even in this environment, it’s the recipient that determines the appreciated service, so while you may offer, that may not be what they need.  Perhaps they can’t share the responsibilities of a particular task, but you could offer to take phone messages for them instead or some other menial task that could free up time for them to work on their priority.  Sometimes the offer to assist will be all they need to push through their assignment.

The toughest part of Acts of Service is knowing which act would be most appreciated.  If you don’t know, ask.  “What could I do to help you right now?” or “What could I do that would make your day today?”  If they sense your sincerity, you’ll likely get an honest answer.  So while you may wonder why they didn’t just ask in the first place, remember, sometimes that takes all the fun out of it.  So get going and speak the language of service to those who need it and watch how good you’ll feel having made someone’s day with your selfless act.

If you or someone you know possesses this as a primary or secondary language, won’t you do us all a service and share some stories in the comments section?  Watch for next month’s coverage on Gifts!

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(The Five Languages are based on “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White))


  1. Thank you April for making me aware of this book, I definitely need to catch up on your former blogs concerning ‘The Five Love Languages”. Giving & receiving I believe are as equally important as each other, both feel great if you do it with authenticity.

    • Rebecca, I love that you bring attention to the fact that giving and receiving are BOTH important and gratifying! Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  2. I have never heard of Gary Chapman’s book and I am now interesting in reading it. The tricky thing for me is to figure out the act of service people need and would be appreciated. It is smart to ask instead of just helping them directly.

    • Yes, Erin, that’s the toughest part of this particular language as the act itself is so important. I hope you enjoy the book!

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