Love is willing the good of another and offering active care for the whole person.
Recently a well-intended and trusted friend mentioned to me that I might want to tone down the “peace” talk in my external communications and use language corporate leadership is more familiar and comfortable with. I know why she made the recommendation. People do not want to talk about peace in the workplace. It sounds mushy, woo-woo, and soft. Adjectives no one in the workplace wants to be associated with.
There is nothing soft about peace. Quite the opposite. Peace is human security and the ability to live a life of dignity that is free of fear. The reason some leaders may be uncomfortable using this type of language in the workplace is because corporate culture expects — perhaps requires — that we bifurcate our humanness. We are expected to bring only certain aspects of ourselves to the workplace. We are conditioned to check our emotions at the door. We are told to not take it personal — it is just business. In other words, a lack of decorum and sometimes even abuse is okay if that is what is perceived necessary to get work done and to move the needle closer to achieving corporate goals or objectives.
In countless ways we are conditioned to be stoic, competitive, non-humans who are able to leverage the totality of ourselves for the benefit of the organization while also shielding the organization from what might be perceived as the “messier” side of being human — such as our feelings, our hopes, our need to be heard, recognized and understood. In short, our need to be treated with dignity.
This inability to bring our whole selves to the workplace inherently creates destructive tension and the inability to experience security. Which brings me back to why it is so important to shift the way we talk about the workplace experience and begin to use language that cultivates peace.
Love as a Corporate Value
If “peace” makes you uncomfortable, love is even more radical. Love in this context can be understood as willing the good of another and offering active care for the whole person. I am not a religious person, but when I consider the definition of love, I am immediately drawn to the biblical definition from I Corinthian 13:4 — “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” In other words, love gives space for human security. It honors dignity. Love is peace in action.
Imagine working in an organization that recognizes patience as a necessary condition to growth and innovation. Imagine an organization that leads with kindness toward internal and external stakeholders. Imagine an organization that prioritizes human development as a means of inspiring the best in people rather than pitting individuals against each other in an effort to utilize envy as a means of motivation. Imagine corporate town halls in which the contributors to the work are at the center of the discussion instead of a boastful leadership team bragging about revenues and growth. Instead, they honor and recognize the brilliance of the individual contributors. Imagine what could be accomplished if love was a corporate value.
We won’t achieve peace in the workplace until we become comfortable with the idea that peace is an act of love, and that love has a rightful place in every aspect of our lives — including the workplace. When we honor and lean in to the fullness of our humanness and when we invite wholeness into the workplace, we tap into the very best of ourselves. And that is obviously very good for business.
Dr. Robyn Short is the founder and president of Workplace Peace Institute, a consulting and research firm that brings peace and dignity to the workplace. She also works as a peace-building trainer, mediator, racial equity coach, and restorative justice facilitator. She is the founder and publisher of GoodMedia Press, an independent book publisher that’s mission is to promote peace and social justice through books and other media.
Dr. Short is the founder and board chair of the Peace & Conciliation Project, a 501(c)(3) antiracism organization that brings communities together to address and repair the harm of racial injustice. She works with Dallas Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation as a racial equity consultant and strategist. Dr. Short is an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University in the Master of Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution program and the Master of Leadership and Negotiation at Bay Path University. Dr. Short has authored four books on peace building.