What is love in the office?
I am obviously not talking about the shenanigans that come to mind when talking about love at work - I’ll leave that to someone else. What I am talking about here is the value of love, the resulting behaviours, feelings and mindset, and the impact it has on our working relationships.
Love can take many forms: We can love our team, our peers, our leaders, our business or simply our work. All the words below are an expression of love in some way, shape or form, and could be key to empowering corporate values:
- Emotional intelligence
- Listening actively
- Seeking to understand
An unexpected expression of love.
I was facilitating a workshop with a cross-functional team that had been through an intense few weeks of work with a highly strategic remit. They had had a tough time, but had bonded in the process and achieved something highly significant for their organisation. As they were sharing their experience, one of the participants, a down-to-earth forty-something male with a technical job who had struggled with some aspects of the project, suddenly blurted out, “Love you all.” This was followed by a second of blank silence before the conversation resumed, but the tone was different. The sharing was deeper, the atmosphere more relaxed, and people were smiling. The difference that expressing love had made was striking. In an organisation that repressed emotions, this person had broken conventions and made the team incredibly stronger.
Why is love good for the office?
One of the most important aspects of a mindset of love is that it breaks down barriers: lack of cooperation is often underpinned by a lack of feelings, a lack of interest in others. With love, forget about the blame culture that cripples so many organisations. Love removes buffers. It fosters collaboration.
Love and empathy.
Empathy is a strong expression of love. The term “empathy” is used to describe a broad range of experiences. It is often defined as “the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling”. It is about finding yourself in the shoes of the other party. Empathy is a key ingredient of successful relationships because it helps us understand the perspectives, needs, and intentions of others. It reduces a number of unwanted behaviours such as prejudice, bullying, and inequality. Research has shown that Managers who demonstrate empathy have employees who are sick less often and report greater happiness (Scotta, B.A., et. al. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, November 2010).
How to become more empathetic? Get out of your own head, focus your attention outwards, don’t make too many assumptions and use mindfulness. Meditation has been proven to increase empathy in the short term.
Empathy is also at the very heart of customer centricity. At Walking the Talk, when working on facilitating culture change for our clients, we sometimes find a low level of customer-centricity, and we know right away that empathy will not be high on the agenda. Often though, our clients will argue that they are customer-centric, that they know who their clients are and what their needs are. But just as often, we find that true customer-centricity - the understanding that comes from listening actively, the emotional relationship with, or more simply the love for the customer - is not present.
I got to know the man who expressed his love for his cross-functional team better. All the teams he leads love him (Please note my choice of words). People will go a long way for him. Why? He shares love, he says the word, he gives hugs, he has time for people and he tried to understand them. Last year in his company he was voted Best Manager of the Year.
Never stop loving.
I have learned that you should always hear the other side of the story: One of my colleagues is of the opinion that too much love is not good, because it leads to compromises and to doing something to please the other party rather than doing what is right.
What do you think? Could this form part of your corporate values?