The Four Methods of Guidance

The Four Methods of Guidance is basically how the Buddha taught people to nurture relationships and build new ones. Most of my friends know I'm a big advocate of The Five Languages by Gary Chapman, and I was shocked to discover that the Four Methods of Guidance is basically the same thing as the Five Love Languages, minus the fifth language of touch.

The Five Love Languages came out in 1992, but The Four Methods of Guidance has been been passed down for 2500 years! I'm always excited to find when ancient wisdom totally matches with modern wisdom.


The Four Methods of Guidance are Giving, Loving Words, Beneficial Action, and Activities in Common. Each one corresponds with one of the Five Love Languages:

  1. Giving — Gifts

  2. Loving Words — Words of Affirmation

  3. Beneficial Action — Acts of Service

  4. Activities in Common — Quality Time

Image Source: Yours Truly


Image Source


Giving is similar to Gifts in the Five Love Languages. But aside from just material things, Giving can also mean giving our time, energy, positive emotion, and useful knowledge.


Loving Words encompasses Words of Affirmation in the Five Love Languages, such as appreciation and encouragement, but it also just means anything said with a loving intention, including admonishment.


Beneficial Action is basically the same as Acts of Service in the Five Love Languages; it's about doing things to help them.


Activities in Common is similar to Quality Time in the Five Love Languages; it's about joining them in the activities they like to do. That way they feel that you have commonalities.

What I like about the Four Methods of Guidance is that it's broadly focused on all relationships, while the Five Love Languages sound like it's something more for romantic relationships (especially since touch is one of the languages).


My Experience

As a teacher, it's important for me to build good relationships with my students. To tell people I use The Five Love Languages to do that might give the wrong impression, so now I can say I use the Four Methods of Guidance.


For Giving, probably the most important one is positive emotion. Emotions are contagious, so if I'm calm and happy, my students will be calm and happy, and then they will naturally enjoy my class.


For Loving Words, I have to give both encouragement and admonishment, though I try to give a lot more encouragement compared to admonishment.


For Beneficial Action, I take initiative to check in on my students and provide tailored guidance.


For Activities in Common, I learn about their interests and see where we have commonalities to chat about.


From personal experience, I can affirm that these Four Methods of Guidance are really effective at building relationships!


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