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Be a Better Coach: Learn Your Clients Love Languages

Understanding a person entirely helps you to better help them. Love language is a part of each person and is an important aspect of coaching your client to success!

You may have heard of the 5 love languages before:

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

These 5 languages were first outlined by Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. The idea behind this theory is that everyone has a primary and secondary love language. This love language(s) is how each person likes to express and experience love.

Love languages are something everyone has and uses whether they realize it or not. For example a woman may love it when her partner helps out around the house. The partner may care more about getting gifts or notes and doesn’t see doing housework as necessary. The woman (whose primary love language is acts of service) feels as though her partner is neglecting to help and begins to feel unloved.

It’s important to establish love languages not only with your romantic partners but with friends, family, co-workers, and clients. Say you have a co-worker named Danny. Every Wednesday morning Danny brings in fresh baked-goods that she made that morning. Danny takes pride in waking up early to make time to bake. She demonstrates her appreciation for her co-workers by treating them to delicious weekly treats. Joe, doesn’t eat the treats but always says thank you and will often write kind emails thanking Danny and their other co-workers for all of their hard work. These words of affirmation are how Joe expresses his love and appreciation.

But what about clients? Whether you are in sales, personal training, or own your own business, you could benefit from understanding your clients’ love languages. As a movement and nutrition coach, I am privileged to work with a wide range of clients. I’ve been able to adapt my coaching techniques to each client based on their individual needs, strengths, weaknesses, and love languages.

(NOTE: So many lessons can be learned from interacting on a personal level through training and coaching. Check out our article on the 35 lessons learned through Personal Training & Coaching.)

Here are a few examples of how better communication can result from awareness and implementation of an individual’s truest expression:

Quality Time

This one is simple – when you are with a client, be with them entirely. Brianna came to me after no success with other trainers. She would meet with them frequently, eat what they told her to eat, and still wasn’t seeing results. Brianna had said the trainers must not have known what they were talking about because they spent so much time on their phones and didn’t spend much time actually “doing their job.” Quickly, I recognized that quality time was Brianna’s primary love language. For her to connect with a coach, she needed them to connect fully with her. Brianna needed her coach to provide eye contact, show up on time, be prepared, and not being distracted by other things like a phone or other gym-goers. I highly recommend all fitness professionals show this common decency to everyone they encounter and be extra aware of it when you know quality time is one of their primary love languages.

Loving Touch

In a professional relationship, loving touch can look like a high-five, fist-bump, or a solid handshake. The hand is arguably the safest place to touch someone as they are able to touch you back. As a trainer/coach/fitness professional, I know exactly how impactful a solid handshake with meaningful eye-contact can be. It indirectly communicates to the client that you are sincere, honest, and on their team. The same goes for a high-five. If you have recognized that a client values touch, something as simple as a fist-bump or high-five at the end of a session can be incredibly meaningful to them (and potentially you!)

Gifts or Words of Affirmation

The word gift brings different images to everyone’s mind. Did you think of a holiday? Perhaps toys, electronics, shopping trips, or wrapping paper? Gifts present (pun intended) themselves in different forms. If you have a client that values gifts – you can shower them without spending a dime. Send them an email or text message commenting on something they are doing well. This can also fall under words of affirmation but if your message can also act as a thoughtful gift. Consider giving your clients that value gifts some of your promotional material like a sticker or shirt with your logo on it. Those clients will be excited for the gift and the opportunity to represent someone who values them.

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