Hoe Northwave investeert in excellente communicatie

Life Languages within Northwave

This Case Study gives more insight in why and how we use Life Languages what this can bring and how the tool works.

Why we use LifeLanguages

At Northwave we believe the diversity in our expertise and personalities, is our strength. Because of this diversity we are capable to deliver the highest value possible for our clients: an integral approach to security. And we’re aware that we can only achieve this by working together.

Effective and efficient – best described as ‘intelligent’ – communication is vital to succesfull collaboration. We recognise intelligent communication is not a given and it’s not easy. Espescially in an environment with people from different backgrounds and cultures. It’s a skill that needs to be developed and maintained. And it asks for a work-environment in which people are recognized for who they are, feel safe to voice what’s important to them and are valued when they do so. As Northwave we have a continuous focus on supporting this.

The tool we use in this context is called ‘Life Languages’. The tool was introduced within Northwave in 2018, during a teamsession on cooperation within one of the teams. It proved to be an excellent way to gain insight into mutual dynamics and to implement concrete improvements. This has led to Life Languages being structurally used throughout the organisation. The party we collaborate with is ‘Performance Happiness’.

This document gives more insight in how the tool works, how we use it within Northwave you can benefit on a personal level and how it enhances team collaboration.

What Life Languages can bring

Life languages provides a tool for intelligent communication. It supports us in better understanding, and therefore communicating, with each other. By gaining insight in our own filter, need, drives, strengths and that of others. And by having a common framework to discuss this.

What this can do for you and your team:

  • You can further define your passions, goals and qualities. This helps you determine what you need to do to realize your potential. And you can better voice and discuss this, for example during your Feed Forward conversations.
  • You gain insight in how you connect with other people. And how people connect to you.
  • You can define and effectively discuss your boundaries and wishes. You are seen and heard in what is important to you. And you see and hear others in what is important to them.
  • You will see and understand the strength in other people’s communication preferences, so you can benefit from these qualities (within your team).
  • You can bridge differences due to communication preferences, so misunderstandings (or worse) are prevented.
  • Joint decision making becomes easier, so frustrations and inefficiencies are avoided.

This leads to an environment in which communication takes less effort, collaboration becomes more effective and efficient, and people feel recognized and therefore more comfortable. And ultimately: in which we can achieve better results.

How the tool works

After filling out a questionnaire you receive a Life Languages Profile, consisting of 7 languages. It describes a preferred communication style. While everyone has a preferred style, all people speak all 7 languages. Life Languages does not put people in a box and can not be seen as a label. There is no good or bad profile and each Life Language includes excellent and necessary strengths.

The languages are divided in three categories: Kinetic, Emotive and Cognitive. Within the three categories are the 7 Languages – Mover, Doer, Influencer, Responder, Shaper, Producer, Contemplator.

  • People who speak kinetic languages, Mover and Doer, generally respond to life, people, stress, and values with actions, then with their heads or hearts
  • People who speak emotive languages, Influencer and Responder, generally respond to life, people, stress, and values first with their hearts, then with their heads and actions.
  • Those who speak cognitive languages, Shaper, Producer, and Contemplator generally respond to life, people, stress, and values first with their heads, then with their hearts and actions.

For each languages, 4 keys to successful communication are described: filter, need from others, passion and key character strength. Insight in these 4 keys helps better understand yourself and others. Additionally each language has it’s own distress flares and essential qualities to be developed.

How we use the tool at Northwave

Within Northwave we use Life Languages in various ways.


  • Life Languages profile & coach conversation. After completing their trail month, all employees receive a Life Languages profile and a conversation with an external certified communication coach.
  • Individual coaching sessions. Life Languages can be used to tackle a coaching question in individual coaching sessions.


On a team level, Life Languages is used in various forms. Northwavers have always had a Life Languages profile & coach conversation prior to the team actives.

  • Team sessions. A Life Languages group profile is made up in advance and is discussed during the team session. Depending on the needs in the team, team sessions are aimed at cooperation within the team, cooperation with other teams and/or making an impact on the client. Team sessions can stand alone or can be part of a larger program.
  • During a workshop the emphasis lies on applying the knowledge gained from Life Languages. Cases brought forward by the team are leading. Workshops can stand alone or can be part of a larger program. The workshops currently done within Northwave are aimed at impact on the client, visibility towards the client and colleagues, scalability and quality.
  • During a crosstalk we deepen our understanding of each other’s filter, need, passion and strengths. This is done by placing the Life Languages profiles side by side and drawing and discussing ‘crosstalks’. Crosstalks are done in smaller groups (for example 1 one 1 or within project teams).
  • Sparring sessions. Sparring sessions are scheduled periodically with a Life Languages coach. The aim is to keep themes discussed during Life Languages team sessions, workshops and/or crosstalks up to date.

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