This title goes two ways. Firstly, it speaks of the action of love, because contrary to popular belief, love is not some mystical magical no-work phenomena.
Secondly, it speaks to love in the workplace. The question we want to put on the table today is, “can we love at work?”.
We will use what I view as one of the best descriptions of love to attempt to answer this question. This description is from a passage in the Bible, and it is a description that is true for all relationships. Today, we will use it in the context of the workplace.
The specific passage I am referring to is in the first book of Corinthians, chapter 13. In this portion, the writer highlights a total of 16 characteristics. These characteristics are: patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud, not rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered, does not keep record of the wrong, does not delight in evil, rejoices in the truth, protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres, never fails. The list is intimidating, and some elements look as if it will be impossible to implement, as well as irrelevant the workplace. But it is possible!
Let me tell you how.
Asking if something is possible starts with using our own imagination to “see” what this would look like.
What would being patient in the workplace look like? It might look like taking time to teach a junior a skill that they have not yet mastered. It may look like you are reminding yourself that you are learning when you make a mistake.
What would not being self-seeking look like in the workplace? It may look like being curious about the roles other people play in the workplace and asking questions about how it is connected to your role and the overall purpose of the business. It may look like re-evaluating your project priorities against the project priorities of others and which priorities at that time have the greatest importance and urgency. It might look like showing up for projects that are not even yours.
What would rejoicing with the truth look like in the workplace? It may look like speaking up when business transactions are based on dishonesty. It may look like putting your opinions aside to make time to hear the experiences of others, especially more junior staff members.
You will notice that none of our imaginable actions above speak to what your boss or your fellow colleague can do, because you cannot control their behavior.
We have the awesome opportunity to practice these steps on ourselves first, and then practice it on others. Love is a practice – the continual application of an idea.
The idea today is to love as described in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a in the workplace and start with yourself. For me, this might look like scheduling a daily check-in for a few minutes at work with myself as an act of kindness. During this check-in, I will pause all work focus and simply ask myself how I am and what I need at that moment. I can then extend this practice to a colleague and do a check-in with them – a “how are you in this moment and what do you need in this moment?” and a moment of intentional, active listening while they share.
What will love at work look like for you? Please share in the comments.
Till the next post