Honoring Thy Father

Ah boy, this is gonna be a tough one.  I am just like my dad.  This became evident when I was a teenager.  He was so clearly perplexed by me, and I was more than willing to test his limits.  Growing up, my parents were very ‘50’s like.  Mom worked a part-time job, and did all the “woman-stuff” like dinner, laundry, ironing, child-rearing, etc.  Dad worked a full-time job and did all of the “man-stuff” like mowing the lawn, paying the bills, disciplining the children, etc.

He didn’t balk when I wore a skirt that was too short, but was less than enthusiastic when I got a B- on my report card.  He was inclined to grumpiness and was most affectionate and playful with a couple drinks in him.  Fiercely loyal to family and friends, and a man of great integrity.  So proud and strong and brave.

He worked so hard to provide for my mom, sister and myself.  He was a committed firefighter at Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Department and earned the “Lifetime Member” award.  He was a member of the local American Legion named after his father.  He was a proud veteran.  He was the eldest of seven.  He was an avid golfer.  He was an avid bowler.  The hardest part about writing the preceding sentences are two words that still cut like a knife: “He was…”

It’s been eight years since I lost my dad.  I cry as easily now as I did eight years ago when he was called to heaven.  I remember how it unfolded so clearly.  My husband, children and I were at a weeklong church retreat and on our last day, I had called my dad to see if he received the results of a test to determine what had been causing him gallstone-like pain for two months.  He said in a shaky voice that it was cancer.  This was in August of 2004.

Having lost my father-in-law to cancer only 3 months earlier, this was a scary bit of news.  I cried silently, so as not to upset the grandchildren he doted on, and resolved to be the strength for him that he always was for me.  Soon after, I met with the oncologist who educated us and said initial tests indicated this was a Stage 1 cancer.  A couple weeks later, and several tests later proved otherwise.  My strong, hardworking dad had Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

He had radiation and chemo and a doctor that truly tried everything to eradicate this terrible disease from my father.  Dad didn’t respond well to the chemo and had several hospital stays to recover from the effects of this potential ‘remedy’.  Six months after his initial diagnosis, my dad was informed that he had less than a week to live.

Badass that he was, he made it 8 days to March 1st, 2005.  He left a legacy.  A beautiful legacy that I, my sister, mom, son, daughter and nieces will continue to celebrate.

I learned from his life how to work hard, have fun and be strong.  I learned from his death that you can’t take time for granted.

Today, I honor my father with this post and celebrate all that he taught me in that important role.  Tell me in the comments section why your Dad is or was so awesome! Happy Father’s Day all you Dad’s and Father-figures out there.  You will be remembered, make it good!

Is Career Suicide a Result of a Common Parental Mistake?

As parents, we all do the best we can.  Could we have done better? Probably, but that’s just the snotty little voice of retrospect talking. I was raised, and raised my children, to be leaders not followers.  This has proven very effective thus far against the evils of youth: drugs, drinking, sex, peer pressure, bullying, etc.   I have repeatedly heard and said, “Be a LEADER, not a follower!”   So, you ask, what is this HUGE mistake you speak of?   Being the Leader is only half the lesson.  The other half of the lesson is to be a good Follower.  What you talkin’ ‘bout Willis?

Allow me to explain.  It’s great that we teach our children to be leaders and take charge and be assertive and not concede to popular belief simply because it’s popular belief.  However, it’s a bit short-sighted.  Let’s break this down.   Fast forward to your child’s first job or new job. While leadership skills may be admired by employers, followership skills are equally as important.   There are times we need to take charge and times we need to assist and support.

We all have a boss.  This includes CEO’s, business owners and entrepreneurs.  Leadership ability is important to grow and develop, and Followership ability is important for exactly the same reasons.  We need to teach our children, youth and next generation workers, how to follow.  I don’t mean of the “sheep” or “suck up” variety, I mean actively, knowledgeably, passionately, PROUDLY, follow.

One of the most common struggles I see in today’s up-and-comers’ is their drive for big things. Big titles, big money, big life.  Those goals are great, however, in order to achieve them (and sustain them eventually) they need to learn how to be great at small titles, work efficiently with small monies and lead a satisfying life of simplicity, at least temporarily.  Living and learning all there is at these ‘follower’ levels will make these up-and-comer’s better leaders.

Ever work in a company where there were too many Chiefs and not enough Indians?  It ain’t pretty!  It’s like professional “Lord of the Flies”.  Following is allowing someone else to “drive” while you assist in any way that makes their job as “driver” easier and succeeds in getting to the desired destination in an efficient manner.  Take the Daytona 500, the race car driver is the Leader and the pit crew are the Followers.  And before you use this term interchangeably with “Team Player” let me explain the difference.  In a team-player scenario, the entire team would be in the vehicle as they cross the finish line.

As parents, we obviously want our children to be successful in all of their jobs and professional pursuits.  Our kids, like ourselves, have worked for or will likely work for an incompetent leader, but that need not be an excuse for being an incompetent follower.  The lessons that come from that experience will only serve to provide another accomplishment.  While a Leader should be judged on how they develop their Followers, a Follower should be judged on how well they develop their Leader.  Both roles serve the other.

What examples do YOU have that show how balancing Leadership skills and Followership skills have assisted in job or career success?

Being Unapologetically You

Isn’t it ironic that as adults we think how ridiculous we were to worry so much about what other people thought of us when we were teenagers? Yet, as adults, we too, tend to worry about what other people think of us? As if every person we speak to is testing our ability in a particular area? We speak or behave in a particular way to ‘prove’ we are good parents, good friends, good son’s or daughter’s, good neighbors, smart, worldly, funny, professional, self-controlled, free-spirited, playful, serious, happy, sad…I’m exhausted. How can we BE all of those things? WE CAN’T!!!

Good Lord, stop trying to run all those races!! It’s not a contest!! You are humanly perfect. That is not a contradiction. There is no one else in the whole wide world exactly like you. There never was and there never will be again. Just. Be. You. …Unapologetically. The people I’ve loved the most in my life have been the one’s that ‘be’ themselves, without apology, with all their faults, in all their crazy glory!

Be kind, be loving, but be YOU! Your authentic you is the best ‘you’. Stop trying to be someone else, or please someone else. When you are fully you, you will attract those who appreciate what makes you different and special and unique. You’re missing out on those relationships by trying to fit into someone else’s mold.

If you’re pretending to be someone that you’re not, the people that fall for you aren’t really falling for you. They are falling for the person you are pretending to be. That knowledge will continue to make you feel like crap! But when you are being your true, authentic self and people gravitate towards you (and they will, I promise!) you will feel like the Rockstar you truly are. You ARE special, You ARE important, You ARE unique, You ARE AWESOME!

Why on earth would you try to hide your awesomeness? You think math is cool? You think farts are funny? You looovvvvvveee Scrabble? You have 11 cats? You look like a homeless person when you wake up? You’re emotionally constipated? You buy all your clothes from consignment shops? You use sarcasm as a shield? You need to be held when you have nightmares? You are overweight, fashion unconscious or introverted? God I love you!! Let your FREAK FLAG FLY!!!

Rock on with your Bad Self!! Again, be kind, be loving, but BE YOU!! Tell me in the comments section something that makes ‘you’, unapologetically ‘you’. Shout it from the rooftops, because I think you’re awesome!

26 Ideas to Make the World a Better Place

I am purposely posting this on May 26th ‘cuz I’m clever like that!  Not only does the date coincide with the message, but it’s MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND.  This is a great time to remember all those who have passed before us and remind us just how precious life is.  As mentioned in last week’s post, I, and my former classmates were horrified at the events of December 14, 2012 in Sandy Hook, CT.  Once the fog of grief started to lift, the resilience of the families affected, and the community as a whole, inspired me to find the good that can come out of even the most tragic of circumstances.

Ann Curry started a project of committing 26 Random Acts of Kindness to honor the 26 lives lost.  While numerous worthwhile projects were born from this tragedy, this project helped quantify the good that still exists in the human spirit.

Check out (and “Like”) the Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/26acts for more about this ongoing project.  Stories are shared to encourage and report wonderful examples of people doing simple acts that serve to restore faith in humanity.

There are so many awesome ways individuals can spread a little joy.  Here are 26 of my favorites:

  • Personally thank a veteran this weekend
  • Buy 26 roses and hand them out to random people that look like they need a little love
  • Create care packages for homeless people (hygiene products, hand warmers, etc.)
  • Give $5 extra at a toll booth and tell them to apply it to as many cars as possible
  • Give $5 extra at Dunkin or Starbucks for the next person
  • Volunteer at a food bank, soup kitchen, homeless shelter, school, etc.
  • Donate to causes that you believe in
  • Donate clothing and household items to the Salvation Army or Goodwill
  • Volunteer at special events like Relay for Life, Special Olympics and community clean-ups
  • “Share” a friend’s  “new business” post
  • Take the time to listen to that long winded co-worker’s story instead of doing the army crawl around the building to avoid them
  • Send someone an email telling them what a great job they did
  • Ask an elderly person to tell you one of their proudest moments
  • Thank a police officer and other first responders for their work in the community
  • Post a public “thank you” to someone who has helped you in some way
  • Make a “Welcome” package for the new neighbor
  • Ask the new co-worker if they’d like to lunch with you
  • Give your bag of returnable cans and bottles to that person you see picking them up along the street every week
  • Visit the new business in town and try to help them succeed
  • Email the corporate office of a business letting them know you received great service from someone on their staff
  • Mentor a youth in need by becoming a Big Sister or Big Brother
  • Offer to do yard work for an elderly neighbor
  • Never pass up a kid’s lemonade stand…buy generously
  • Tell that pompous, know-it-all something you truly like and admire about them
  • Forgive someone’s crabby behavior and treat them nicely anyway
  • Volunteer at a local ESL (English as a Second Language) program or learn someone else’s language (Spanish, Sign, etc.)

Behavior is often contagious.  When someone treats you poorly, you are more likely to treat someone else poorly while in your pissy-place.  Yet, when someone treats you kindly, you are more likely to ‘pay it forward’.  In essence, like one stone creating many ripples in a pond, your act of kindness has the ability to (directly or indirectly) impact millions of people!!  If you spread it out over one year, that’s only once every other week. (Math whiz you ask? Why yes, yes I am!)

I’ll leave you with a quote I stumbled upon just before writing this post:

“The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.”    -Kalu Ndukwe Kalu

Will you use one of your 26 Random Acts here?  Please share some Random Acts you’ve committed in the comments section of this post.  You never know when you might inspire someone else.  

Looking for Fellow Conspirators…

With social media so rampant and news media able to communicate so quickly, information gets delivered at a much faster pace.  In the past, information came from the 6 o’clock news or the morning newspaper.  Now you can learn about any published report, from any corner of the world, in seconds.

This technological advancement comes at a cost.  First, there are many inaccurate reports, so you have to vet out the rumors and theories from the facts.  Secondly, you can support virtually any argument or belief.  This is great if you are trying to support the idea that there are more good people in the world, than bad.  This is depressing if you’re trying to support the idea that there are more bad people in the world, than good.

I believe that which we focus on, is our truth.  As I’ve stated in previous posts, I don’t want graphic pictures of abuse or neglect to assault my world.  It’s not that I doubt their existence; it’s simply that I don’t need to SEE it.  It only serves to add negativity to my world.  I CHOOSE to live in a place of light.  Dark may enter it, but I try to determine how much of that I allow in.

December 14th, 2012, and the days immediately following, were some of the darkest days I’ve ever experienced.  I and many of my former hometown classmates were devastated by the loss of 26 lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  In my grief, I immersed myself in anything related to this.  Online, TV, radio, I couldn’t miss one single detail.  In retrospect, this was an entirely unproductive exercise.  It helped catapult me from sorrow to depression.

Viewing these reports (some rumors, some theories, some true) caused me to see my world from a perspective that only served to ‘prove’ that bad things happen to good people.  What you focus on becomes your ‘truth’.  If you focus on the bad in this world, your perspective is going to view everything from this angle, which will make you feel anger and want to share that anger with others. Likewise, if you focus on the good in this world, your perspective will view things this way, which will make you feel good and want to share that goodness with others.

This mindset is not intended to encourage ignorance or oblivion.  You have to be smart and balanced, but if you continually view media that is negative, you will ‘live’ in a negative place.  There are more than enough reports to support conspiracy theories, but there is equal publicity on ‘do-gooders’ as well.

If your intent is to make a difference, focus on those areas where you can effect change.  Posting that Africa has starving children or the US has ‘crooked’ politicians does NOTHING, unless you back it up with peaceful, intelligent action and non-confrontational education.  Tell me how I can use good to improve those situations.  Making donations, writing to my representatives or any other positive actions I can take.

I’m all for awareness and protests and expression, but if your only form of action is posting it on social media or sharing your unsolicited views at the water cooler, than you haven’t really made any positive difference at all.  Do something positive and productive or shut the “F” up about it.  This sounds harsh and may erroneously imply that I’m unwelcoming to opposing views.  I would just rather pay attention to those good aspects of this planet, and if I feel passionately about a negative, I will do my part to improve it by taking peaceful action.

Won’t you ‘conspire’ with me to do, and spread, goodness and positivity?  Tell me what YOU are doing to make a difference.  Perhaps instead of focusing on how the wealthiest country in the world has such a high homeless population, you can tell us about volunteering at the food bank.  You get the idea.  Comment and share the action you’re taking to make this world a better place.

Mom and Her Cape

My mom drives me crazy sometimes. Just like I drive her crazy sometimes. I’m considered by almost anyone who knows me to be very non-judgmental. We all have our demons, yet I find that I throw the stone a little harder at my mom and the demons she occasionally dances with. Like she’s Superwoman or something. Like she doesn’t have the right to have weaknesses and shortcomings like the rest of us. But see, she was Superwoman to me. So on this Mother’s Day I’d like to honor her by thanking her for her superpowers:

So Mom, Thanks for:

  • Standing up to the neighborhood boys that bullied me even though you hate confrontation
  • Always telling me I was pretty (and meaning it), even when my teeth were bigger than my face
  • Having all sorts of interesting Reader’s Digest Condensed books to feed my need of reading
  • Having a delicious dinner on the table 5 nights a week
  • Letting me bring home any and all friends that made any sort of claim of abuse or neglect
  • Leaving with me through the ‘early exit’ door of the haunted house several years running, even though you really wanted to go through the whole house
  • Letting us build forts in the living room using dining room chairs, every sheet and blanket in the linen closet and laughing with, or providing instructions to, us
  • Teaching us all sorts of ridiculous superstitions, like wishing on a hay filled truck or an eyelash or saying “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” before uttering any other words on the first day of the month
  • Letting me take the car, even when I was being a snotty, bratty teenager and didn’t deserve it
  • Letting me and the neighborhood kids share our secret hideouts with you that were dispersed over a one mile radius from the house so I could prove my mom was the coolest
  • Not telling Dad so many things, even though you threatened to, just to scare the bejeezus out of me
  • Letting me wear hot pink four inch heels in 7th grade because they were cool, even though I looked like a prostitute
  • Bringing me to the Edmond Town Hall every Friday night to see the movie, even though (I suspect) you knew I wasn’t going to see any movie
  • Telling me I had a great shape (and meaning it), even though I had no boobs or hips
  • Yelling at me and telling me how disappointed you were the entire 5 mile ride home when I smoked way too much pot and was throwing up all over the passenger door of the Buick
  • Teaching me how to drive, and not slapping me, even though you wanted to, when I tried to show off and scare Christina Perry on her bike by gunning it and swerving at her
  • Always telling me how proud you were of me
  • Coming to every single chorus concert and acting like you just saw a Broadway show and only heard my “angelic voice” singing
  • Making sure Dad went easy on me, when me and cousin Michelle broke a neighbor’s TV while pretending to be drunk (seriously Oscar-worthy performance)
  • Being the prettiest mom so I could brag
  • Loving me even when I didn’t deserve it or made poor choices
  • Showing me your “scary mom eyes” in the grocery store with the stage whisper telling me to “just wait till we get home” then doing nothing once we got there
  • Making every holiday such an exciting tradition year after year
  • Teaching me to accept all people and not pass judgment
  • Moving to my town after Dad died, even though you really didn’t want to leave our childhood home
  • Loving me unconditionally, even though I put conditions on showing my love to you at times
  • Teaching me that while you have your own version of Kryptonite, you’re still a Superwoman

Mom, while you may dance with demons occasionally in your human form, I will be heartbroken when you dance with the angels. So let this post in your honor be my flawed human attempt at telling you just how much I love and cherish you and hope to someday, truly be worthy of your unconditional love. Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Mom’s reading this post. For those who are fortunate enough to have their mom’s still here, as well as, those who are missing their mom today, please share your own “Thank You For…” in the comments section.

Five Languages in Five Weeks – Lay It On Me

We are now in our 5th and Final Week of Learning Five Languages in Five Weeks. Let’s review:
These are the Five Languages:

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

Week one talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers. These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why. Week two covered Quality Time which is based on focused attention on, or with, the other person. Week three we discussed Acts of Service which is all about action and doing something the recipient would greatly appreciate. Last week we went over Gifts, which are those tangible “things” that let a person know they are loved and appreciated. This week we will close out the series with Touch. If you would like a brief overview of each language, revisit Week One’s post – “Five Languages in Five Weeks – Starting with Words”. Again, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal and business life, so view all the languages from those two perspectives. If you’re the huggin’, kissin’, high-fivin’ and fist bumpin’ kind, then this is all about you!

These language speakers are all about touch. Nothing communicates like person to person connection. Touch rewards, soothes and, of course, loves.

Personally, this language speaker likes the obvious like hugging and holding hands. But more subtle signs include when they are listening to a heartfelt story, they may touch the hand of the speaker to soothe or to soften a difficult, yet honest discussion. These lovers are often eye-gazers as well. Touching with their eyes, so to speak. They also tend to be very comfortable being up close and personal with others they know and like, as in ‘intruding-on-their-personal-space’ comfortable. So identifying these language speakers is relatively easy. Some find this a difficult and uncomfortable method of communicating. To the recipient however, this is as necessary as oxygen. Find your most bearable level of comfort and lay it on ‘em. Like the other languages though, remember not just any touch will do. You have to determine their preferences. As they are often so sensitive to touch, doing it “wrong” can have a negative effect. When in doubt, ask.

Professionally, there is not a lot of room for these language speakers, as most touch acceptable in the personal arena, is unacceptable in the workplace. Likewise, even those who prefer the language of touch in their personal lives to feel loved, likely do not prefer it in the workplace to feel appreciated. Although you’ll see snippets of them as they tend to be the high-fiving, fist-bumping, pat on the back, handshaking folk. Those are pretty much the only acceptable forms of touch in the workplace and even the pat on the back can be annoying to some, so use with caution, always considering how the other person may perceive it, regardless of how you intend it.

These touchy-feely types love affection and being affectionate. If you identify with this language, remember it can also be off-putting to others at times, so pay attention to the signs others are giving to you. If you’re approaching someone and they take a step back, you likely just barged into their personal space, so be respectful of other’s needs. If you’ve got something to share about Touch, please do so in the comments section below.

Hopefully, you’ve identified your own primary “language” and those that play a significant part in your life, both personally and professionally. Understanding your own languages in those environments can help you communicate your needs better and be aware of how this differs from others. Understanding the language of others will help you show love and appreciation to them in a way that’s meaningful for them. As always, I hope this, and all preceding posts, gave you a new perspective to consider. Perhaps that person who frequently doles out compliments at work would like to receive some Words of Affirmation themselves. Maybe Mom’s complaints about how you never visit, is a sign that she needs Quality Time with you. Seeing your spouse’s face light up because you surprised them with a five-course homemade meal will indicate their need for Acts of Service. The employee who tears up after you present them with a small engraved plaque thanking them for being the Official Morale Booster of 2013 appreciates Gifts like nothing else. And of course, the ever-ready-with-a-hug, lover of Touch, who gets as much as she gives, in every embrace.

All of us need love and appreciation. We may need varying levels of it, but we all need it. Understanding how you need to receive it and how others need you to give it, and acting on that knowledge, will guarantee improved relationships. If you’re still unsure of your language or would like to invite someone else to learn theirs, here are the sites and info to take the online assessments: For the free personal assessment, go to www.5lovelanguages.com/profile . For the professional version, there is a $15 charge, but can be found at www.mbainventory.com .

You are now empowered to make a difference and communicate more effectively with someone. So go Love on that person you love and get Appreciating those people you work with. Watch how it will ripple through every aspect of your life. Please know, with as much sincerity as I can convey in a blog, how much I truly Love and Appreciate my readers. Your support has spoken to me in every ‘language’ and hopefully I’ve spoken my thanks in yours! Comment on any experiences you have had based on use of any of the languages, ‘cause sharing is caring! Until next week…

(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))

Five Languages in Five Weeks – Ooohh, For Me?

We are now at Week 4 of Learning Five Languages in Five Weeks. Let’s review:

These are the Five Languages:

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

Week one talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers. These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why. Week two covered Quality Time which is focused attention on, or with, the other person. Last week we discussed Acts of Service which is all about action and doing something the recipient would greatly appreciate. If you would like a brief overview of each language, revisit Week One’s post – “Five Languages in Five Weeks – Starting with Words”. Again, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal and business life, so view all the languages from those two perspectives. If the idea of a little something special topped with a bow just for you sounds perfect-o, read on.

Gift lovers are all about the tangible. Price isn’t (always) important. Often, it’s just getting a thoughtful “thing”.
Personally, this could be the newest BMW or a six month cruise around the world. But often, this is simply a bunch of handpicked wildflowers, a box of chocolates or the latest suspense novel. Those child drawings and driveway stones that have a little sparkle? Yeah, those too! These language speakers love to look at and touch these expressions of love. Like all the other languages, pay attention to clues that would help you determine just the right gift.

Professionally, while the BMW or cruise would be great, these aren’t likely. Gift lovers get excited over the certificates, awards, pins and prizes. A bottle of their favorite wine for a special assignment that had the added bonus of making you look good too, is sure to score! A mall gift certificate, Cabela’s gift card or even a $1 instant scratch ticket…any of these are likely to elicit pure joy. Remember though, thoughtful counts here too. Don’t assume Dave would automatically like tickets to the Patriot’s game any more than Carol would like tickets to the ballet. You should know enough about these people that if you’re going to give a personalized gift, you have a good idea what interests them.

Being thoughtful and sincere in your gift giving is sure to be a success to the gift-loving recipient. It’s especially enjoyable if they know why you’re giving it, even if it’s “just because”. Gifts make them feel special, so tell them why they are. Now is the time to get creative and get giving for these language speakers. They’re sure to repay you in your language…if they read this string of posts anyway. If not, give them the gift of this site! Otherwise, give all the wonderful readers here some ideas by commenting on creative ways to ‘gift’ those we love and work with, so they feel loved and appreciated. Watch for the dramatic conclusion to this series in next week’s coverage on Touch!

(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))

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Five Languages in Five Weeks – Service Please

We are now at Week 3 of Learning Five Languages in Five Weeks.  Let’s review:

These are the Five Languages:

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

Week One talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers.  These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why.  Last week we covered Quality Time which is based on focused attention on, or with, the other person.  If you would like a brief overview of each language, revisit Week One’s post – “Five Languages in Five Weeks – Starting with Words”.  Just a reminder, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal and business life, so view all the languages from those 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 backrub or a home cooked meal, a car wash or a BJ (just keepin it real).  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 giving must be authentic and given out of love.

The professional examples look VERY different from the personal one (at least I hope they do!)  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.  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 just 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 week’s coverage on Gifts!

(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))