The words “love” and “workplace” are not usually perceived as naturally co-existing. I am not talking about romantic love, but of the natural bonding love that can develop between people who spend hours of the day together in a mutual pursuit, with common goals, such as at work. These more personal feelings do naturally exist, and can often arise among people in the work place, yet there is no frame of reference for them nor, any accepted language to describe them. Nor, is there widespread understanding that such feelings can be productive in professional or workplace environments. Rather, these so called “softer” emotions are often thought of as, detrimental to one’s productivity and success. Indeed, they are usually assumed to cloud objectivity and judgment, or blunt hard edged competitiveness–traits historically thought of as the sure markers of success.
Nothing, however, could be farther from the truth. Feelings of warmth, affection, and even love, towards those in one’s workplace, whether towards one’s co-workers, bosses, employees, or clients, have been shown to increase inner states of well-being, which in turn enhances both creativity and productivity. The expression of genuine warmth, and natural affection amongst people working together facilitates a sense of bonding and belonging. These positive qualities enhance communication and trust, which then naturally spills over into the vision, project, or work at hand. Conversely, working in an environment focused on merely competing to achieve one’s goals, devoid of warmth and connection to others, can create feelings of isolation, paranoia and stress; the very things, which inhibit the free flow of one’s innate creativity and potential.
When people feel appreciated, they want to give more. They feel satisfaction in knowing their contribution to the whole is valued. They engage in work with a sense purpose connected to a larger whole than their own narrow self-interest–qualities known to fuel creative potential. Conversely, fear, paranoia, and distrust close people down, curtailing access to their inner giftedness.
Professional environments where love is cultivated offer a new and radical view of the workplace, which is very much the opposite of the currently held belief that striving to be one’s best inherently means competing against others in a zero-sum-game, where there is a winner who must always be “one up” over another. People flourish when they feel part of a whole, when their unique contribution to that whole is valued. Collaboration bred in love is a key that can unlock success for any business endeavor. What matters is the subtle intention of one’s effort. If what is in one’s consciousness is to outdo someone else in order to gain personal advantage, that hidden intention will be felt on some level and will color the outcome, bringing negativity into the culture. On the other hand, when a person strives to be his or her best because of a deeper purpose to serve the whole, borne out of feelings of love, the result will be greater accomplishment, while at the same time bringing positive energies to all.
Everyone flourishes in an atmosphere of love, as love is an energy that nurtures and satisfies one’s innermost being. It has its own innate wisdom, which always brings more positive outcomes and constructive results, even in the face of difficult decisions, projects or, interactions. People naturally respond positively when they feel its inclusive and reconciling presence, and in turn respond with increasing good will.
An article published in January 2014 in the Harvard Business Review titled, “Employees Who Feel Love Perform Better,” by Sigal Barsade and Olivia O’Neill states,
“Love is a not word you often hear uttered in office hallways or conference rooms. And yet, it has a strong influence on workplace outcomes. The more love coworkers feel at work, the more engaged they are. (Note: Here we’re talking about “companionate love” which is far less intense than romantic love. Companionate love is based on warmth, affection, and connection rather than passion.) It may not be surprising that those who perceive greater affection and caring from their colleagues perform better, but few managers focus on building an emotional culture. That’s a mistake.”
In addition, the article cited a study titled, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” in which emotional culture and its impact on productivity was examined. This study, which was conducted across seven industries, from health care to finance, showed that employees who worked in a warm and caring culture performed better. They found that employees’ feelings of happiness were directly correlated with greater personal productivity, which in turn also improved client satisfaction. “Employees who felt they worked in a loving, caring culture reported higher levels of satisfaction and teamwork. They showed up to work more often.”
Interestingly, the study also revealed that when allowed to express genuine loving feelings towards others, employees fared better at their jobs, “People who worked in a culture where they felt free to express affection, tenderness, caring, and compassion for one another, were more satisfied with their jobs, committed to the organization, and accountable for their performance.”
Another survey, of more than 1,700 adults, conducted in 2012 by the American Psychological Association found similar results, concluding that employees who consistently feel valued and appreciated by their employers were found to put in more significant effort on their company’s behalf. “Employees who feel valued are more likely to report better physical and mental health, as well as higher levels of engagement, satisfaction and motivation, compared to those who do not feel valued by their employers.
The above studies accurately demonstrate how powerful the influence of love can be in the workplace, both in enhancing the well-being of employees, as well as in the concrete positive results that benefited their companies. However, in all cases, the burden for creating the culture of love was placed on the shoulders of the company itself. Yet no matter what work environment one finds oneself in, each person has the power to make dramatic positive changes by harnessing the power of love. Love changes the outcome of any interaction for the better, as it naturally reconciles disparate points of view, brings a deeper wisdom, and reveals enlightening new perspectives.
The method I use when working with people in business is that of Eidetic Imagery. Eidetic Imagery is a fast moving technique that uncovers the stored mental images of one’s life. Because it works directly with each person’s unique images, it identifies problem areas quickly, generates positive change, promotes insight, and brings forward the individual’s innate powers and genius. One example follows:
A man I was working with was having difficulties with his boss’s anxious moods, which left him feeling unsure of himself. He worried that it was affecting his job performance. I asked him to visualize the problem in his mind in order to see it more clearly. I then asked him to once again see the difficulty, but this time, to keep love in mind while doing so. This enabled him to gain insight about how to handle the situation. The conversation went something like this:
Q: John, see an image of your boss. What are you seeing?
A: Okay, let me think. The first image that comes to mind is of her rushing up the stairs to her office, and as she passes me she is very curt. She seems very stressed out.
Q: When you see that image, how do you feel?
A: I also feel stressed out. And it makes me anticipate that all my interactions with her will be stressful, because she is so stressed. Every time she is stressed out she gets curt, and she rushes me.
Q: Okay, now see her doing that to you. Tell me more about what happens in the image.
A: I start feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. When she rushes me like that it makes me lose my composure. I try to give her the information she wants as fast as possible, but under that pressure, when I feel so rushed, I kind of shut down and fumble. I can see that she is scattered because she is coming from a place of stress, but I can’t seem to help getting sucked into her negative energy.
Q: All right John, now place your awareness on your heart. Think for a minute about someone in your life who evokes feelings of love, who makes you feel warm in your heart. Now, keep that feeling of a warm heart in mind as you see the situation with your boss, take a moment and visualize the same situation again while keeping those warm heart feelings in your mind. What do you see in the image now?
A: My heart feels like it is rushed and beating fast.
Q: That’s fine. Now as you keep your heart in mind, see that you feel the love in it. Let yourself connect to the feeling of love within you, feelings in your heart. Keep those feelings in your mind as you see the image of your boss.
A: Well, as I do that, a shift comes over me. In the image I seem to feel more compassionate towards her when I see how stressed she is. I see myself interacting with her in a way that is gentler and calmer. When I responded to her stress from my own stressed place, she would get even more stressed. But when I keep the feeling of love in mind, I see in the image that she calms down, because I am more centered and I am coming from a place of compassion. It seems like she picks up on my loving energy and it calms her.
Q: How do you feel now seeing that?
A: More centered. If I am not reacting to her stress, if I deal with her in a way that is calm and reassuring, it has the effect of calming her down too, and I feel I can be more effective.
Q: That’s great. So what did going through this exercise do for you?
A: Well, I can see that I am very sensitive, and I react all too easily to her negative energy. And when I do that I make more mistakes. When I keep love in mind in the image, I instantly feel more centered, and I shift from reacting to her energy to feeling effective. It feels like the love in me has the power to calm her down. So instead of feeling victimized by her anxiety, I see that I have the ability to change the situation by influencing her in a positive way. As I think about it, keeping love in mind, I think it gives me more insight. For example, I see she over-cares about her job. She’s over-dedicated to it. I think that’s where a lot of her stress must be coming from, and that makes me feel compassion for her now instead of irritation.
When John’s intention towards his boss switched from fear to love, he reported back to me that the outcome of his interactions with her dramatically shifted for the better.
In every work environment, a person or group’s genuine intention has a powerful impact on outcomes, and so the use of this understanding can be highly effective. Thus, whether the goal is to enhance individual well-being, or provide a sense of purpose within a team or organization, keeping love in mind improves personal interactions and optimizes overall productivity. Love is like a magical elixir that can be applied to any situation because it brings forth its own innate wisdom, which overcomes any difficulty, because people long for what it offers—authenticity, purity and connection.
Here is an imagery exercise that you can explore within your own mind. It deals with a difficult situation you face at work and shows how keeping love in mind elicits fresh solutions:
- Take a quiet moment for yourself and close your eyes. See an image in your mind of a person at work you are having a difficulty with.
- What do you see?
- How do you feel as you see the image? Allow all your feelings and bodily sensations to surface, as these will give you much more information about the situation.
- Notice what the precise nature of the difficulty is.
- Now keep love in mind. Feel the presence of love within you.
- Keeping love in mind, once again see the difficult situation in your mind’s eye. Now let the image unfold like a movie. What happens when you keep love in mind?
- Notice how keeping love in mind, brings new wisdom, relief and awareness into the situation.
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Jaqueline Lapa Sussman, MS, LPC
For more than 30 years, author Jaqueline Lapa Sussman has applied the techniques of Eidetic Imagery in her work as a counselor, speaker and teacher. One of the foremost Eidetic practitioners in the world, over the last two decades she has been the protégé and close associate of Dr. Akhter Ahsen, Ph.D., the founder and developer of modern Eidetics and pioneer in the field of mental imagery.