I went to a lunch time seminar a while ago. We ate nice food and discussed some fairly arcane topics. One was, “Does love have a role in the workplace?”. At first I thought that was a weird one.
The group was a mix from business and the public sector. It also included a smattering of people from around Europe.
Many thought love not an appropriate concept for the world of work, to summarise, asserting that business is rational while love is emotional. The question was greeted with amazement by many. In particular, those for whom English was a second language, albeit a really strong one, associated love simply with family ties, romance and so on. The answer was easy to this group, an incredulous and resounding, “No!”.
Others argued that it does have a place at work if you understand the numerous subtle nuances of a word so complex as to be rather unhelpful if not unpacked a little. We discussed an interpretation that included interdependence, trust and respect, and the resulting motivation and commitment derived from strong relationships that are bound together with a little emotion. That’s a little cold, but I think it counts.
The debate went on for a while and became quite robust, with each group incredulous at the attitude of the other.
Finally, we turned to a senior military officer who was among the group. He’d said nothing up to that point.
His response was simple. In the army, the answer is absolutely, unequivocally, yes. They would be lost without it. While they’d never use the word itself, much of training and cultural development is designed specifically to create groups who take huge risks with and for each other. Without intense ties, they would likely fail under the extreme stress of operations.
I was in the yes camp. I can see a link between the rational and the emotional, translate one into the other. Now and again a little emotion (and I don’t mean being grumpy or angry) helps me connect people to each other, get things done and increases my enjoyment of it all. Especially when working globally.
I think I might give the word itself a swerve though.
I can’t wait to hear what you think about this one!