Published on Charity Village
Date: 28th July 2021
As we know, love is not a frequently used term in our workplaces and classrooms. It is, maybe, even more tentatively used in relation to service. In this series, we have begun to illuminate the relevance of exploring the energy of love as an integral element of serving each other in our world ~ especially now more than ever. We have an opportunity to unite and overcome the impact of separation in our interactions with each other and, however we end up defining it, the path forward is one paved with love.
What is it that makes us recoil or at the very least raise an eyebrow when the suggestion of love arises in the workplace? What makes us so uncomfortable?
Love often leads us into a state of vulnerability. And mistakenly, we equate vulnerability with danger and weakness. Sure, we might logically concede that vulnerability is actually a sign of courage and strength and yet, most of us resist the opportunity to stand in our vulnerability with every fibre of our being. There is a big leap between the intellectual acceptance of the power of vulnerability and the capacity to embody and embrace that experience with a deep sense of self-trust.
What is the connection between self-love and self-trust? Perhaps the more deeply we cultivate a healthy, unconditional regard toward the self the more we become a trustworthy vessel? How could this impact our relationships with other people?
Relationships are key when thinking about communication in the workplace. We can’t deny that how we show up as individuals has an impact on the greater whole. The community doesn’t exist without the individuals that create it. So, we all contribute in a variety of ways.
Does our contribution emanate from a place of love and acceptance? Or does it express itself from a foundation of suspicion and competition? How can we trust if we can’t first love? Or love if we can’t trust?
Love in the workplace does not mean a crossing of our professional boundaries. Love expresses itself in a multitude of ways and every relationship we participate in provides an opportunity to learn the personal language of love and to develop responsive communication skills.
Navigating the remote relationship
Over the past year, most of us have become familiar with the practice of working remotely. In addition to learning new systems and platforms, we have also been asked to adjust to communicating in ways that can leave us feeling disconnected and, at times, isolated.
Paradoxically, you might have also experienced a sense of wonder at how well you created relationships with new colleagues, co-workers, and friends or how you got to deepen your interactions with someone you might otherwise not have engaged within your office setting.
The online experience forced us to carry on in a world where face-to-face interactions were restricted and showed us that we might have placed too much emphasis on the importance of in-person communication in terms of developing relational spaces.
Nothing is a substitute for human contact and presence in a shared space. But we can still experience presence and connection even when at a distance. So there must be other, equally valid, qualities that we are embodying in order to sustain relationships that allow us to connect personally and create collaboratively.
There is so much that can separate us beyond the confines of our physical office space. Remote might equally be used to describe our emotional availability or capacity for understanding. Sometimes the alternative perspective offered by others exists in a space we feel we can’t access.
Love in the midst of it
Love as a workplace communication tool sets the stage for enlivened interactions, authentic explorations, and deeper connectivity. This kind of community space keeps us on the cutting edge of innovation and creativity because we feel safe enough to take the risks required.
We cannot become pioneers into unknown spaces if we are not able to sit with the unfamiliar and sometimes contradictory energy that emerges in our relationships with people who bring alternative perspectives, ideas, and approaches. If we can only carry loving energy into those situations that are agreeable to us then we create conditionality and automatically lock ourselves into patterns of sameness.
The new and unknown exists outside of these patterns and habits. Naturally we will feel uncomfortable when we move into that space. In these moments, love would say, “I am open to your presence and what you have to offer.” Love would listen attentively, with a genuine desire to understand the other’s point of view. And it would show up authentically, being transparent that acceptance of what another offers does not imply agreement. Love helps us to be comfortable with the most uncomfortable conversations.
When loving energy is present, the exploration of differing points of view becomes fun and lively because we can separate ideas from identity. Looking through loving eyes at our colleagues and co-workers allows us to appreciate what they bring to the table without judging them for how it’s presented or whether we like their particular offering. This is where creative and collaborative genius is born. Love sees the possibility.
Maybe you have a teammate that you simply don’t like. It happens. Let’s not pretend that we are never rubbed the wrong way. The cause of the irritation doesn’t really matter but our egos would like to spend countless hours listing all the ways this person deserves our disdain. Instead, this is the perfect time to invite love in.
Love doesn’t guarantee that you will ever come to like this person but it will open you to a more gentle approach of respect, acceptance, and curiosity. Love helps us expand our desire to understand and this moves us toward enlightenment in as far as it invites us to lay down our burdens. Love also provides the space to quiet our ego chatter. It is an act of self-love to let our hearts be softened.
If you find yourself the recipient of harsh words or actions, it can be very difficult to feel loving, especially toward the perpetrator. Focus first on your own needs. Sometimes, when we feel betrayed or judged by others, we seek to either punish them or defend ourselves. Secretly, we may even agree with their painful projections and sink into a sea of shame, allowing our self-worth to be measured by others. Love will give you the strength to stand right by your side whether that is expressed as forgiveness, humility, or confidence. Love is demonstrated in acts of personal power that emanate from within and exude inclusive respect and honour.
It is not important that we show what we are against as much as it is necessary to stand up for what we are for. It is always the most challenging to do so when we are threatened or hurt. Walking the talk is evidence. Walking the talk is how we contribute to evolution and growth. Walking the talk is the path of integrity and alignment.
Love fills that journey with courage, grace, and hope.
Elizabeth Bishop is the creator of The Conscious Service Approach. She regularly facilitates workshops based on the principles of the approach both online and in person. Elizabeth can be reached at www.elizabethbishopconsulting.com, on twitter at @askelizabethb, and Facebook and Linkedin at Elizabeth Bishop Consulting.