What?! LOVE? My colleagues? Haven’t we heard enough in the press recently about unwanted amorous exploits in the workplace?
No, not that… Just let me explain. First, we are talking about platonic love or even more accurately, the kind of love Greeks called agape, a love that you extend to all people whether strangers or friends.
So it’s all about being nice to each other at work?
More than that. There is growing evidence that agape is in a dangerous decline in many countries. Empathy levels in the U.S. have declined sharply over the past 40 years, with the steepest fall occurring in the past decade. We urgently need to build our capacity to care about strangers, starting with those sometimes strange people we work with.
But how can I be nicer than I already am? I try really hard… but sometimes you just have to be tough to get things done and put certain people straight.
To be more precise still, we’re not talking about generally being lovely but about doing everyday activities in a way that shows consideration, empathy and care for that other human being. Even the tough conversations can be very effectively done in this way, if you have a clearly-felt positive intention towards the other person plus some skill at delivering the message.
Don’t we all try to do that already?
Mmm… maybe! I’ve coached quite a few people who would say differently. It’s not easy in the rush and stress of a modern workplace. Technology de-personalises the relationship element, and we have more barriers to really connecting with each other. Email, messages, self-service, automatice voice recognition, apps, global teams and even home-working contribute to more isolation from colleagues and customers.
So why are you blogging about How To Love Your Colleagues, Hilary?
First, I’ve learnt that those people who connect well with other people have more influence. Second, people who can maintain a kind of caring objectivity have less stress and more personal power. Third, those who try to do the right thing in the right way encourage others to do likewise, and the good vibes spread around. Work with a loving attitude towards your colleagues and you’ll reap what you sow.
And what will you write about HTLYC in the future?
I’ll offer my ideas, experience and suggestions on all aspects of work behaviour that can be done with the heart fully engaged as well as the head, regardless of the task.
Next stop, world peace!
Our colleagues are a proxy for the wider world because our workplace is the world that we live in every day – so if you want to bring about world peace, you can start the process by making a difference in your workplace. Now back to work, my friend.