This is a “make-up” post for one of the #LoveBlog prompts I missed over Valentine’s Day weekend. “Words of affirmation” was the prompt for Saturday, Feb. 13.
Words of affirmation is one of my top love languages (it and physical touch vie for the top spot). I love to read, love to write, and ended up being an English teacher who teaches both to teenagers; it just makes sense that words would mean a lot to me in my personal relationships as well.
I read somewhere (and I honestly don’t remember where; if I did, I would absolutely give credit) that there are two “dialects” of the words of affirmation love language: compliments and encouragement.
Honestly, to me, it seems like a fine line between the two. Sure, “Your hair looks nice today” is pretty obviously a compliment. But “You did a really good job teaching that lesson. You’ve really improved as a teacher” is both a compliment AND encouragement. I can see the need to differentiate between compliments and encouragement at times, but I think many times affirming words are going to have elements of both.
For me personally, I am more affirmed by the words that meet at that crossroads of compliment and encouragement, and words that show me some sort of respect (another #LoveBlog prompt that I’m looking forward to writing about later this month). Words that show respect for who I am and what I have accomplished are especially important and appreciated. As nice as it is for a student to say “I love your outfit today,” I will be much more affirmed if they tell me “Thanks for being our teacher. I’ve learned a lot from you.” As nice as it is for my husband to tell me I look pretty, it means more when he says he appreciates me.
So, how can you give someone words of affirmation? Well, for me, written communication has always been easier, and I’m much better at it than verbal. When I was in college, I oftentimes slipped a card in campus mail to friends expressing my compliments and encouragement to them. If you are not a great conversationalist, writing out your affirming words in a card, journal, list, or even an index card could be a good way to affirm the person you care about.
If you are good at verbally expressing such praise, I would encourage you to think about what you want to say beforehand. Come up with some genuine praise for your loved one. Remember the differences between compliments and encouragement. Just like with acts of service, it might be a good idea to consider what types of words would be most affirming to the person in question. Just as you might not wash the dishes if someone would feel more served by you folding the laundry, you might not want to shower someone with compliments if what would make them feel most loved was encouragement.
What type of affirming words to you most appreciate? How you use words of affirmation in your relationships?
Thank you for reading! The #LoveBlog Challenge is hosted by Belle Brita, introduced to me and co-hosted by my friend Charlene at Enduring All Things. Check out the introductory blog post for the challenge and link-up here.