Love, Actually

February 27th 2014

We rarely, if ever, talk about love at work. Oh, we might in the abstract. We might say, “I love my job.” Or “I love this firm.” But rarely do we hear people talk about love specifically. Rarely do we think of love as appropriate for the workplace.

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I’m pretty convinced that we don’t talk about love at work because we associate it with sex, romance, nepotism, HR policies, and lawsuits. Love is also viewed as a feminine word, too soft for the hard realities of business. 

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Maybe it’s time to change these negative constructs. Maybe it’s time to start thinking and talking about love for our team members, partners, and clients. Maybe it’s time to start demonstrating more love at work in ways that will improve our firms.

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First, let’s define love as it might exist in a professional context. The Oxford American Dictionary is a good place to start. Here are select definitions of love as a noun: “An intense feeling of deep affection or fondness for a person or thing; great liking.” And as a verb: “delight in; admire; greatly cherish.” The way I see it, these are definitions that fit well with professional life.

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Next, let's determine how we might demonstrate an intense feeling of deep affection in a way that won't get us dragged into court on a sexual harassment charge. When I think of deep affection, good friends come to mind. Maybe you think of your friends, your spouse, or your children. That's a good place to start. With people we love, aren't we:

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  • more patient?
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  • more forgiving?
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  • more honest — emotionally and otherwise?
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  • more relaxed?
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  • more grateful?
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Don’t we:

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  • overlook their failings?
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  • give them extra emotional space during a difficult time?
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  • work to understand what they’re dealing with?
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  • laugh off their bad moods and dumb moves?
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  • tell them the difficult-but-loving truth about things?
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Yes, we do these things for people we love, and we are better for our efforts. So are those we love. Love, then, is mutually beneficial. What a pity we can’t get beyond our own fears and egos to allow more of it at work.

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Loving our partners, colleagues, and clients is often a very tall order. But imagine the possibilities when love becomes part of your decision making. How might that change your working life? How would strong, loving relationships in your firm affect how well your team works together? How might love affect turnover of employees and clients? 

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There is no simple formula for creating happiness, productivity, and longevity at work, But I am certain that love is part of the equation. This post is just the beginning of a long conversation.

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leadership, professional development, love

Comments



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Bonnie Coleman
10/16/2014 11:56am
I never thought of how love affected my working relationships until today. Now I will never forget it.\r\n\r\nBest,\r\nBonnie
Michael Wall
03/01/2014 5:56am
Great start to a long overdue conversation.\r\n\r\nThank you Melinda.
Daryl Golemb
02/28/2014 8:47am
Melinda, keep up the great writing. Best regards, Daryl