Part 9 :: "Loving Work" Wrap-Up
Human beings communicate all the time, but how many realize the true and inherent power of communication as an act of Love?
Look at the way you communicate and what’s possible for you through language. That’s the very first step on your journey toward a fuller and more authentic expression of yourself. And it's a journey that, once you start it, brings others along with you.
The world is changing – fast. Blocking your calendar, using content management programs or just working harder and longer are not sufficient. You may think that new tools and techniques will help you get past the productivity and efficiency issues that seem to be holding you back, but what I’ve seen is that embracing communication as an act of Love gives people the ultimate competitive advantage.
When you access the full power of your communication, you lead with Love, and that opens worlds of possibility.
The solution to pretty much every business problem that will come your way is rooted in Love.
The delivery mechanism for that Love is Authentic Communication.
This is your moment to do one of the most audacious things ever: Bring Love to the Workplace.
#LovingWork #AuthenticCommunication #CommunicationIsAnActOfLove #BringLoveToTheWorkplace #MakingWorkWorkBetter #21stCenturySkills
So, Just What IS Love at Work? (Hint: It's Not an Office Romance.)
I’ve been working with a client that’s doing a big, complex, bank-funded project where an acute lack of Authentic Communication has had some significant consequences.
Chronically missed deadlines mean the project is now years late, and my client is facing bank interest payments that have accrued from the delay. Contractors were overpaid due to lack of direction and oversight. A partner had to be fired. Legal action is contemplated.
I was brought in to tease out the critical issues and help resolve them by applying the principles of Authentic Communication. I’ve worked with my client to bring clarity to himself, and to the relationships, agreements and processes that comprise the project. Now we’re moving forward – on time and on budget.
As we’ve tackled the various, snarled elements of the project, I’ve accompanied my client on his journey of deepening self-awareness. We’ve used the often challenging, sometimes very heated, discussions and interplay with vendors, regulators, contractors and others as mirrors that reveal more about my client’s human experience. As he accepts more responsibility for how he shows up, my client finds himself on solid footing to request more accountability from everyone with whom he works.
He’s practicing saying, “No,” to get control of the tasks that have been piling up, completing critical pieces and regaining a sense of order of what has to be done.
And he’s learning to listen. He’s begun to see that, while listening to each other does not have to mean agreeing, it sure keeps the peace and enables higher productivity.
One step at a time, he is beginning to treat more of his communication as an act of Love, and, in the process, uncovering new levels of trust – in others and in himself.
What I’m seeing with this client is how, when you view communication as an act of Love, you glimpse options and alternatives that were not obvious before. You have the confidence to ask for what is truly needed – time, money, people, or, perhaps, someone to listen. You become courageous – and contagious – in your honesty. You commit fully to the highest and best for your project, team, organization and clients.
As you become more proficient with the power of your communication, you unleash more integrity, authority and power in your work environment. You feel more fully alive, more present and more connected. You are charged up with the kind of energy that results from and generates Love.
This is not the kind of love you have for your favorite pizza or a shiny new car. This is not even the kind of love you might experience when you see a real Monet or a shooting star. This is the kind of Love that arises in relationship with yourself and other human beings. It’s the kind that can be nurtured, grown and delighted in through language.
#LovingWork #AuthenticCommunication #LoveAtWork #NotAnOfficeRomance #CommunicationIsAnActOfLove #MakingWorkWorkBetter #21stCenturySkills
As a manager you oversee a myriad of things – client relations, deliverables, budgets, strategy, and more. It’s also up to you to keep an eye on the dynamics in your team.
Colleagues may be friendly to one another. Their behavior can run from sibling-like at best to bitter rivals at worst. The notion of teamwork can be deeply challenged by misbehavior in any member of the group. Gossip and infighting can emerge in the pressure of a project, and they quickly affect efficiency and effectiveness. In some instances, the friction can become so intense that an explosion is inevitable. That can send the whole team off balance, and, as the manager, you might spend more time smoothing feathers than doing any work.
When I was 32 I worked at a global PR agency and experienced one of the lowest moments of my career: I made a junior staffer cry.
I had grown increasingly frustrated with what I perceived as his lackadaisical attitude about our client’s demands, and I confronted him in the middle of the office – within earshot and eyesight of most of our colleagues.
I exploded. I berated him and chastised him. I demanded answers and actions.
He burst into tears.
To say I regret that day is a major understatement. Despite a general sense of camaraderie and teamwork in our office, not to mention my own years of yoga and spiritual practice, I acted out in a very inappropriate way.
I lost my inner wisdom and self-awareness. I acted out of fear, not Love. I jeopardized my role as a leader and compromised my team’s efficiency. I put at risk the relationship with our client as a looming deadline came second to attempting to re-establish the trust that my actions had shattered.
Even if respect is central to your work culture, everyone is susceptible to the tinderbox effect created by the pressures of our jobs, our lives, the world. The most balanced person can have a day so volcanic it sends everyone in the office running for cover.
Staying true to the path of Authentic Communication requires ongoing practices that keep us from straying into the dark and fiery realms of behaving badly.
It’s not about you.
If you’ve begun to do the work of self-awareness and are cultivating the kind of presence that would make Yoda proud, if you’ve embraced new possibilities that help to make your work and life a little less insa-a-a-a-ane, you may conclude that Authentic Communication is a program for personal development.
That, though, is only part of the story.
As we know, communication is radically relational. And being in relationship means other human beings, people with desires, cares, fears and feelings, are engaged with you. You are walking toward – or away from – each other on the bridge forged by your communication.
Before you find your team in turmoil, lean in and listen deeply to the people with whom you work. Social time together is valuable, but an evening at a local bar cannot compare with compassionate listening. Attentiveness borne from Love forges deeper, more meaningful connections, and those are the connections that really make your team hum.
Listen, not to solve any problems, offer a witty retort, or even agree with what’s said. Listen in order to see the world through the eyes of this person who is toiling by your side day after day, to create a safe place in a competitive, challenging, fast-moving environment, or to nurture more productive, creative, thriving collaboration.
There’s a good chance that you do hear what others say – like me, you might even take notes – but are you actually listening? The good news is that listening is a learnable skill that, with practice, can become a healthy habit. Listening this way, with intention, empathy and curiosity, lands at the heart of all Authentic Communication.
When you start to shift so that everything becomes an opportunity for communicating Love, it’s easier to drop “bad behavior” and choose connection, even vulnerability and courage. When you listen with empathy, you learn who your colleagues really are, how to communicate with them, how they listen, and how to support them through the work that you’re doing together so everyone experiences more meaning and fulfillment.
I have found that when people feel like someone has deeply listened to them, they deliver higher quality work and are more committed to their jobs. With deeper connections that come from listening, there’s also a chance you’ll feel the Love that’s been in your team all along.
#LovingWork #AuthenticCommunication #ItsNotAboutYou #Listening #CommunicationIsAnActOfLove #MakingWorkWorkBetter #21stCenturySkills
When I was growing up, there was a TV commercial for an electronics company that always ended with the actor proclaiming, “It’s insa-a-a-a-ane!”
Does that same line go through your head when you open your calendar?
You’re double-booked. Meetings overlap. Work and personal commitments conflict. It’s exhausting (not to mention crazy making) just to look at what’s on your agenda.
Like the “Exploding Inbox,” a nutty schedule can be a chance to check in with yourself. As you come face to face with all the demands on your time, clearly (or not so clearly) outlined on your calendar, you can take a breath and name the feelings that arise.
Then, when you’re more grounded in self-awareness, you’re prepared for the next series of steps on the journey of Authentic Communication. You open to new possibilities about how communication can take some of the sharp edge out of your agenda, your voice, and your work.
The Biggest Word I No
Restoring sanity to your calendar – and keeping it that way – is a never-ending process of discernment.
When requests for your time and energy come along – whether it’s an invitation to dinner or the chance to lead a huge client engagement – you have a responsibility to tune in and determine whether you can answer with a whole-hearted “Yes” – or if the appropriate response is, truthfully, a “No.”
Taking on assignments and accepting invitations can strengthen our sense of self, and honoring them can foster feelings of integrity. But what if you’re uncertain about making good on this obligation? What happens if you already feel strapped for time and resources? What if your calendar looks like pandemonium?
Just as with your inbox, you start by bringing self-awareness to what you feel when you look at your calendar. And you gain access to one of the most loving words you can say: “No.”
When you frame your answer as an act of Love, you release anxiety about creating disappointment and fear of missing out. With Love you can access your inner wisdom and discern the appropriate response. You can be open to the possibility of “No.”
You might think that saying, “No,” is anything but loving. In my experience, though, this small, simple word is among the most powerful in our entire lexicon.
I’ve found that, under pressure, it can be more difficult to say, “No.” And that’s especially true if you’re a woman raised in a culture that conditioned you to be a “pleaser.”
Saying “No” can be an act of self-respect and dignity. It helps us avoid over-promising, and the inevitable disappointments and stress that follow.
“No” is only available when you start from self-awareness because it means: “I know who I am. I’m clear on the commitments in my life – to myself and to others. I know what energy and resources are available for this. I am being honest with you and myself because I love both of us. I am not willing to risk disappointing you by taking on more than I can handle.”
I encourage people to meet life with a big, heart-opening, “Yes!” But it’s vital for “No” to be in our vocabulary, and to know when and how to say it. We have to be able to accept when someone says “No” to us, too.
“No” might be tough – for many of us it can seem out of reach. But embracing . this tiny, potent word as an authentic option and learning to express it with Love can support the autonomy and dignity of being human.
And, “No” might just keep us from going insa-a-a-a-ane!
#AuthenticCommunication #LovingWork #CommunicationIsAnActOfLove #ItsInsaaaaaane #BiggestWordINo
If you’ve read the previous posts in the Loving Work series, you might sense a fresh, new way to look at common business issues. Now we'll explore what’s possible when you embrace communication as an act of Love and turn it into a powerful skill for optimizing the way you work. Let's apply Authentic Communication to a few challenges most business leaders face. First up: The technology we all love to hate – email!
Every day, you open your email, and you cringe when you see the number of unread messages in your inbox. You promise yourself you’ll get it down to zero, or at least hold the number where it is now.
Your vow to achieve a “net-zero inbox” or be “email neutral” is noble. It’s also, though, improbable unless you bring a different perspective to what’s possible with this ubiquitous business tool.
You may need to use rules, folders and a bit of ruthlessness with the “delete” button to dig out from under your email mountain. Over time, though, that little red number creeps back up, and, once again, your day starts with email overwhelm. Your heart races with the feeling that too much has been left undone, or maybe some part of you freezes in denial.
The thing is that, in the busyness of work and the daily barrage of email, you may not even recognize these basic feelings. That’s the place to start.
Who knew that the business tool we all love to hate could be a source of personal insight that can help transform the way we communicate?
Email as Jedi Master
“So certain you were. Go back and closer you must look.” ~ Yoda
When you click on your mail program and catch sight of the flood of new messages, you might say something to yourself like, “Oh, geez. Here we go again.”
Or maybe opening your inbox feels like falling into a black hole. You lose yourself and your sense of time and space as you scroll through and try to figure out which ones will get your attention, knowing a pile will be left for you to deal with on the 1st of Never.
Or maybe you’re supercharged to tackle your email every day, and you maintain a net-zero inbox. Bravo! If you listen deeply, though, is there a hint of resentment that you just receive too many emails? Maybe you just feel a bit angry at that one person on your team whose emails land in your inbox all too frequently every day.
I love Yoda for his simple and uniquely phrased pearls of wisdom. The tiny green sage from Star Wars encourages us to search a bit deeper. Looking within is as necessary and ongoing an exercise for all of us as it is for the movie epic’s heroic Jedis.
In addition to all its practical applications, your email inbox can be a remarkably helpful tool for cultivating loving self-awareness. Greater emotional intelligence creates a foundation for communicating with authenticity and opens expansive possibilities for expressing yourself, your potential and your leadership.
Take a breath and listen within to the feelings that are triggered by the pile of messages in front of you.
Maybe you read that and think, “What does how I feel have to do with communication?”
The fact is that you are at your best as a communicator when you are grounded in self-awareness. If you are not aware of your frustration, elation, distraction – even your hunger or lack of sleep – you are more likely to mis-communicate.
You might confuse – rather than clarify – a situation. You might use a tone that sparks discord. You might even inadvertently mislead a person or a whole group of people.
As you become more familiar with your own inner landscape, you feel more stable and more connected with yourself. Making communication an act of Love comes naturally.
Connecting with Love may not change the number of messages in your inbox, but it can change how you feel as you move through those emails. You’re able to answer them thoughtfully and completely, rather than shooting off knee-jerk retorts that can even create more work – and more emails.
“Closer you must look,” Yoda advises.
Cultivate personal presence that provides the foundation for communicating with Love.
Grounded in self-awareness, you may find that it’s easier for you to have courageous conversations that can create change in your office culture – maybe you can even ask that eager team member to reduce the number of messages he sends and stem some of the overall email traffic.
Of course email is a basic business tool, but what I’ve found is that it also provides an opportunity to learn more about yourself. When you apply that self-awareness to cultivate Love for yourself, for your colleagues and for your customers, the dynamics of work shift. You learn to respond rather than react, and you start to make communication an act of Love. “Closer you must look.”
#AuthenticCommunication #LovingWork #CommunicationIsAnActOfLove #EmailAsJediMaster
You’re a seasoned professional, and you know that communication is fundamental to the way you work. You may have even taken skills development courses to help you learn techniques for improving your communication style.
Have you considered, though, that your communication – at work, home or anyplace else – is actually an expression of your greatest self and highest inner truth?
Your communication can never be separated from the totality of who you are – an emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual being. Even hard-edged business negotiations are an expression of your rich and nuanced humanity.
Can you imagine, then, that your communication might help you experience deep internal shifts and can actually change how work works?
That becomes possible when you treat communication as an act of Love.
You might think it’s strange to bring up the topic of Love in a series about business issues. You might feel uncomfortable or vulnerable talking about Love in a work context. But Love is present in every aspect of life and is perhaps most apparent in our relationships – in all of our relationships – even the ones we have at work.
Without nutrients and tending, plant roots get sick, and that can cause the entire plant to wilt or even die. In the same way, communication that is an act of Love supports healthy relating and flourishing relationships. And, since all business is built on human connections, thriving relationships mean better outcomes in any team, company or organization.
But communicating this way needs attention and care. It needs your focus, time and attention.
Every day the news offers up stories of division, hostility and fear around our world. There is an urgent need for more of us to realize the true and inherent power of communication as an act of Love.
Through your communication you can expand (or diminish) the experience of Love in any environment. At work, at home – or on an even more expansive scale.
When you start to embrace communication as an act of Love, you bring more integrity, power and cooperation to every aspect of your life. You get real about your humanity – about being a person who has feelings and seeks ways to relate to other people who also have feelings. When you embrace communication as an act of Love, you launch yourself into a fuller and more authentic expression of yourself.
When you develop your own communication from this perspective, you shift the bedrock of how things work. You start to see how tuning, improving and practicing Authentic Communication can make everything about work work better.
You see Love as your biggest competitive advantage and the most efficient way to address every business challenge.
You create a more transparent work environment with productive, creative, thriving collaboration.
You express your highest and best self at every meeting.
You get things done with alacrity and joy.
You name, claim and attune to what’s needed to obtain greater visibility and influence.
You become the true boss of your future.
You master Authentic Communication.
#AuthenticCommunication #LovingWork #CommunicationIsAnActOfLove
You might think that “communicating” and “relating” are basically the same thing. It’s good to get a sense for the finer distinctions between these two business-critical concepts. They can help set you on a path to solving productivity, management and operational issues – whatever’s getting in the way of you and your team delivering your very best work and thriving while you do it.
First, though, let’s revisit the idea that communication is radically relational.
The word “radical” comes from the Latin word for “root.” When we say that “communication is radically relational,” we’re affirming that communication is at the root of all of our human interactions.
Communicating is fundamental, essential and vital for our capacity to relate to one another.
The concept of “relating” is a big-picture way of thinking about how human beings connect with each other. There are myriad influences and nuances in every single relationship, and their special combination makes each relationship unique.
But every relationship requires communication, and, ideally, good communication, for that relationship to come into being and continue to grow. It is a primary means for nourishing all our connections.
Simply said, communication is at the root of human relationship.
Like the roots of a plant, Authentic Communication nourishes, sustains and uplifts our relationships.
Because we communicate with absolutely every person with whom we interact,
and all of us communicate all the time,
when we acknowledge that our life and work are comprised of relationships,
when we see that a relationship can only flourish with strong, healthy communication,
we can begin to take steps to ensure that we are communicating in optimal ways for our relationships to blossom, our connections to deepen, our work and our lives to thrive.
Most of us think of communication as a technique for expressing ourselves. We use a consensual code known as “language” to convey our insights and opinions, to tell our stories, to generate ideas. We also communicate through our bodies – an eye roll or a hug can often say much more than words. We even communicate through images. We’re almost always communicating something somehow to someone.
What’s remarkable about communication is not that we do it, or that we do it so constantly. What’s really juicy is that all forms and fashions of communication are radically relational.
And so is business.
Every organization, company, and team is a group of human beings trying to do something together. It’s a group of human beings who are in relationship with each other.
So, whatever’s coming up for you – the stress of overwhelm, some vague sense of underperformance, a deep sigh of resignation – it’s not just about you.
It’s also about every other human being around you and how you relate to each other.
Your relationships are directly impacted by how, what, why and when you communicate. And the quality of these relationships has a direct correlation with teamwork, management skills, deliverables and client satisfaction – not to mention your own sense of meaning and love for your work.
Watch for future installments of "Loving Work" to learn more about how Authentic Communication makes work work better.
"The greatest illusion about communication
You are so ding-dang busy.
In fact, you barely had time to read that sentence.
On one level, it feels like it has always been this way. Now, though, despite your success and accomplishment, the sense that you’re always a step behind or underperforming by just that much is more intense, more acute.
And, at the same time, something is awakening within you that says,
It doesn’t have to be like this.
Although the management trainings and productivity tips have been helpful, they haven’t really cracked the nut. That makes sense because, most of the time, they’re just working on the symptoms.
To uncover sustainable, scalable and enduring solutions to your business issues, you have to go to their heart. And at the heart of every business issue you will find one striking commonality: Communication.
Business is a social activity. It’s a function of relationships, not the other way around.
The quality of every relationship is largely determined by the quality of communication between its parties. Better communication means better relationships means better business.
Until you harness the real depth and power of communication, your personal and organizational stumbling blocks will re-appear again and again. When, however, you tap the full potential of communication to change the way work works, now you’re onto something.
And that something is Love.
Do you feel a little squeamish about the “L” word? Hang in there. You already know that it’s part of every relationship you have – even the ones at work.
We’re shining a light on it, not to make you uncomfortable, but because when we name Love, we unleash the true and inherent power of communication to connect, ignite, bridge, create, innovate, and allow our work and our lives to thrive. It becomes your biggest competitive advantage.
When you begin to treat communication as an act of Love, you privilege the connections that are key to every aspect of your business.
You make being in relationship more important than being right.
You change the bedrock of how you and your team function at work, home, everyplace.
You discover a sense of freedom, increase meaning and joy, and, yes, unlock more efficiency and productivity.
You solve the issues that the 80/20 rule and Lean Six Sigma tools have never touched.
You get real about your humanity at work.
You become the true boss of your own future.
You master Authentic Communication.
Join me for a series of posts that will probe this topic and provide examples of how leaders with big jobs and big hearts can use Authentic Communication to solve pretty much anything.
How Leaders with Big Jobs and