From the Heart

Want to make your business more profitable? Why not try a little love? Sixty years ago, George F. Johnson, founder of the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company, challenged us to rethink what really works in business. He put it this way: "Such a thing as democracy in industry, love in industry, is possible—and it is good business." When I read this I was intrigued. I've always believed that love makes the world go around. But does it have a role in business? After doing some research about "soft" skills and the "hard" results they can achieve, I am now a firm believer. Love should no longer be the "L" word at work. When properly understood, it is not only possible in the workplace, it is critical to business success. Let me explain.

First a clarification about the word "love." In English we have only one word to cover the many kinds of "love" relationships—your significant other, your work, Coca-Cola, your mother, your dog, and so on. This is confusing. Ancient Greek, on the other hand, had at least four words for these different kinds of love. For example, when I urge love at work, I'm not talking about the frisky-business kind of love where co-workers flirt with one another and sometimes do more. That is what the Greeks called eros love—that passionate, intense desire to possess someone or something. There's little evidence that this kind of love has any positive impact on business. Nor am I pushing for agape love at work, where you give yourself completely and selflessly to a higher power or to all humanity. This is such a personal decision that it probably should be kept private. Nor am I calling for what the Greeks named storge love, the kind of love one finds in your family and between parents and children. Keep that at home too.

But I am talking about philea, a social love, where we appreciate, even cherish, one another and what one another does. Born out of the natural need we all have to be accepted and valued, this kind of love is essential for our survival. When we are exposed to it fully, we thrive as human beings, even at work.

Do you give this kind of love at work? Would your colleagues say that you respect them, and ask for and value their opinions? Encourage them? How about communication? Are you a caring listener who looks behind the words to what people mean? Are you the kind of boss who delegates easily and recognizes others' achievements often? When you do these things, you are giving love at work. You might also ask yourself: Am I getting this kind of love? If not, why not? Do I expect, even require it?

We all want this caring kind of love as part of our personal lives. I for one believe it's now time that we give and get it at work too.

In my next column I'll discuss and show why this kind of love is good for the bottom line. The heading for the column: "Big Heart = Big Profits." Stay tuned.


Sidebar

Be Cool
Why do we fight? Instinct, says author/speaker Kare Anderson, founder of the Say It Better Center in Sausalito, CA. We automatically respond faster and more forcefully to what we see as others' negative conduct than to positive conduct. Here's how to turn off that heat:



Accentuate the positive. When you feel yourself reacting against someone, don't think about how you feel—think about how you can make the situation better.



Listen. Every argument has two sides; resolving it means compromising.



Practice "triangle talk." Refer first to the other party's needs ("you"), then to mutual interests ("us"), and lastly to your own concerns ("me").


Dr. Tom McDonald, a Ph.D. in psychology, speaks on "People Skills" needed for "Business Results." Reach him in San Diego at (858) 523-0883 or [email protected] mcdonald.com, or visit www.drtommcdonald.com