Recently a well-intended and trusted friend mentioned to me that I might want to tone down the “peace” talk in the 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. If you follow my newsletter or read the articles I publish on my website, you have come to understand that peace is “human security and the ability to live a life of dignity that is free of fear.” The reason we are 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. 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.