Love in the workplace
There are different types of love. Romantic love is only a tiny part of it, and yet we already hide many things under this one word. And love is much more than what we experience in the romantic sphere of our lives. Love is a big world for big big things. It's serious business.
Yet it seems like a prohibited word, a risky attitude, a shameful thought to have at work. Why so? We are afraid of looking weak, we want to only show the warrior aspects of our personalities. But can a warrior really fight without love? Isn't it love that sparks courage in the first place?
"It is strange perhaps to realize that most people have a desire to love their organizations. They love the purpose of their school, their community agency, their business. They fall in love with the identity that is trying to be expressed. They connect to the founding vision. They organize to create a different world." - Whitney & Keller-Rogers
I understand love as a deep sense of care and consideration for other human and non-human beings, and nature. Couldn't we see love as an attitude to life, to work and to the world? How could we get inspired to sprout a more loving environment at work? How does love manifest itself and how can we bring it to the workplace?
Above anything else, love means benevolence and compassion for what is suffering. The willingness to help the unlucky, the crammed, the less powerful, the panicked, the distressed. Acting with charity at work could be giving a hand to my colleague suffering with a task overload, a torment in front of a seemingly undoable project, a personal issue affecting his or her productivity. To bend over and wholeheartedly, genuinely offer a cup of tea, go get some food, or put in a few extra hours of brain activity to boost the rush, is a powerful act of love. We will all one day rely on the charity of others. We will all get our turn.
Loving imagination is to look beyond the obvious to envision the underlying suffering that may have caused aggression, cynicism, stubbornness or opposition. The soundless shout roaring inside, that muffled scream disguised in principles and arguments, that very often the concerned person is unaware of. Can we foresee beyond opposition what unite us all? Can we let go of our stories, our judgement, our own suffering to connect with our enemies at a deeper level? For it is at this level and this level only that we can find the way to reconciliation and collaboration.
Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. Kindness at work could be an attitude of openness and willingness to meet the person where they are at. Lowering our voice in front of someone we know being of a calm, slow nature, to meet them in their world. Knowing that proving someone wrong is rarely the best way to have them do or execute as we would like them to. And beyond that, kindness applies more importantly to us. Where are you being harsh to yourself, and how could you replace it with kindness. You will soon realize that kindness only allows to set high standards upon yourself and others.
"Love is saying yes to belonging" - David Steindl-Rast
Forgiveness is often directly associated with Christianity. I'm not a Christian. I've been raised in the most laic country of the world by a wonderful couple of anti-clerical Trotskyists teaching me how religion was fooling crowds, very consciously and consistently, throughout the ages. Yet forgiveness is at the heart of their philosophy too. To forgive is to accept that in any situation, in anything, everything that exists is the relationship. Everything is interconnected, and we all share responsibility. To forgive is to know that and take our share, without blaming ourselves, without blaming others, but looking at how the circumstances and the way we relate may have caused the drama. Then have the courage to look within ourselves to heal what can be healed so that we don't fall in the same pattern again, and hope that the others will do the same.
To love with patience is to tolerate that things may not go as fast as we want them to go. We want to see our deepest desires for our work come true immediately. But we are social creatures, and even if we are freelancing or independents, we do depend on others that may not have the same desires, the same priorities, the same rhythm. Recognizing that we need others and that what we want can never be the fruit of our sole effort brings us into a patient way to love, a love that sees the process as a magnificent and wonderful miracle of life unfolding beyond our control, beyond our imagination.