Today I want to write about what may at first seem to be contradictory ideas – business and love. For a long time business has been viewed as purely commerce; the exchange of goods and services for money, and love has been viewed as an emotional condition only relevant to sweethearts and family members in our personal lives.
But as Tim Sanders says in his book, Love Is the Killer App, “I believe that the most important new trend in business is the downfall of the barracudas, sharks and piranhas, and the ascendancy of nice, smart people.” Sanders makes a persuasive case that nice people can and do finish first, and that we must bring love into the workplace.
But what is this thing called “love” when we talk about it in a business context?
I define love this way: Caring as much about another person as you do about yourself, and acting that way.
This is not the Valentine’s Day definition of love that is unreal, romanticized and fluffy. That scenario is mostly about strong feelings of attraction and sexual lust.
This is a practical definition that invites specific behaviors – acting upon your caring for others — that can be applied at work and at home in countless ways every day.
Does this mean you can only ‘love’ someone you like?
Let’s look at the difference between loving and liking someone. Webster’s defines “like” as: “to have a taste or fondness for; to be pleased with, have a preference for, enjoy”. If liking is a requirement for loving, then that leaves a whole lot of people out of your love.
Fortunately, I don’t think they have to go together, although it’s more fun when they do.
I base my definition of love upon the Greek word “Agape” (pronounced “Ah-gah-pay”), which refers to true love as being a pure bond of caring that comes from the heart. It is not a sexual form of love, and this is what I refer to as “caring” about another. It is not just a specific feeling of warmth that comes from liking a person, but a deeper, underlying sense of being willing to see true value in every other person – even those we don’t necessarily like.
In my definition of business love (Tim Sanders calls it “bizlove”), we aren’t true to bizlove if we:
o Speak badly of others
o Manipulate others without regard to their needs to get our own needs met
o Act toward others in any way we would not like to be treated ourselves (Ah yes, that Golden Rule thing)
Here’s what I like most about my definition of love: You can easily judge whether you’re doing it or not by your actions.
When you go to work, do you:
o Treat others as you would want to be treated, even when they’re being jerks? (By the way, this does not mean approving of their behaviors, or just being “nice”, but would definitely include limit-setting and all other appropriate and authentic expressions of what is needed in the moment, sometimes strongly stated.)
o Look for the good in everyone, even those in whom it is very hard to see?
o Refrain from joining in on whatever ‘negative buzz’ is going on around the office?
o Have an active commitment to assist others – and not just your best buddies – to advance and do well?
o Keep a clear eye on your own behaviors, and make amends immediately when you speak or act wrongly and make a mess?
This is just a ‘starter list’ of business love behaviors, but if you are doing these things, then you are a force for love in the workplace, and that’s something we could use a whole lot more of.