Service as an expression of love: Bringing loving service back into the workplace

Published on Charity Village
Date: 24th March 2021

Speaking of love in the boardroom is not standard practice. We tend to shy away from such language when it comes to the large societal structures we live within. The idea that we are expressing love at work, at school, or in business is often met with raised eyebrows and side glances.

With skeptical minds, the notion of exchanging love anywhere other than the privacy of our most intimate relationships and within the confines of our homes implies that somebody somewhere has “crossed the line.” Love, after all, is reserved for only those “special” relationships in our lives. It doesn’t apply to everyone and everything. Or does it?

In Greek, agape is the term used to describe unconditional love. Often equated with religious or biblical language, agape can also be interpreted outside of a relationship with God or any other spiritual being or deity and experienced as “brotherly” or “sisterly” love instead. This is the kind of love we have for each other as human beings without requirement of relationship parameters or personal merit.

This universal expression of love is required more than ever in our workplaces and schools. We dance around the edges of this conversation using terms like care and compassion, but our discomfort with talking about love mirrors the uneasiness we experience in expressing love freely.

That loving feeling

Close your eyes and conjure up a memory of being “in love.” Maybe, you’re in love right now. Feel it. Let yourself sink right into that energy. You know what it is. Being “in love” is usually experienced in relationship with another person. But, it doesn’t have to be so limited. We can be in love with life. We can fall in love with an activity. We can be head over heels with our work. We can let love be the energy that guides our steps every day.

Did you know that love is connected to our natural hormone, oxytocin? Oxytocin lightens our mood and lifts our spirits. And you know how much easier any challenge becomes when we are floating in that enlightened space. Our whole perspective changes and what was once a drag becomes a piece of cake.

Love and service

What does love have to do with service? Relationships are containers for the potential for transformation. Transformation is often a central focus in our service-based interactions. Harmonious relationships are essential if we wish to establish enlightened communication and impact each other ~ even in the smallest way ~ within our interactions.

Service is a form of loving expression. Steeped in authentic care for another human being, service is the act of responsiveness. Some might say that love has no place in the provision of services. But, I would ask why not? If love has the power to elevate not only our communication with others, but also our personal sense of wellbeing, then I say, bring it on.

Perhaps, in the expansion of our definition, we can recognize the simplicity of a loving approach. If acts of service are not expressions of love then perhaps, we have overlooked an essential ingredient ~ one that not only elevates our contribution but expands and fulfills the heart of the provider all at once.

The benefits of loving service

Love sees wholeness. Love recognizes capacity. Love believes and hopes. It does not overextend and try to control or manipulate. Love offers without condition and strings. Love forgives. Love responds. Love strives. It gets back up and it tells the truth. Love walks away without anger or retribution when that is the best response. Love never forces the lesson. Love has patience with the learning process. Love extends and love receives.

If I am led by love as a service provider, then I will seek to understand. I will remain curious and open to the perspectives of other people even and especially when they are wildly opposed to my own. This might occur in the intimate interactions between a service provider and receiver. It might be expressed between organizational leaders and the members of their team. Colleagues can exchange this energy within the parameters of their relationship.

Here’s what love can look like in the workplace

Delivering difficult feedback to your colleague in a gentle manner because you see them as capable of hearing it but you are equally concerned about their feelings.

Challenging the person seeking services by asking to share your observations and then doing so (once invited) with profound respect.

Holding the vision of another’s wholeness when they see themselves as broken ~ without speaking a word.

Approaching your supervisor to address the discord in your relationship with the intention of honesty, healing, and repair because the relationship matters enough to you to have an uncomfortable conversation.

Reflecting with passion on your own biases and shortsightedness when faced with personal judgments about others and how they live their lives because you are committed to honoring inherent worth.

Challenging yourself to step into curiosity and understanding with that “annoying” community partner to actively shift the lens through which you perceive them.

Knowing when you need time and space to attend to the requirements of your heart, mind, body, and soul and finding ways to respond in timely and honourable ways to these needs.

How will you know when you are doing it right? Easy ~ you’ll feel it.

This is the first article in a six-part series on Love and Service. We invite you to read the secondthird, fourthfifth, and sixth articles in the series.

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, on twitter at @askelizabethb, and Facebook and Linkedin at Elizabeth Bishop Consulting.

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