Written by MJ Ryan, SheEO Development Guide
One of my SheEO Ventures was having a challenge with a business colleague and was asking my help in ending their working relationship. “I’m just going to tell him he needs to quit because he’s adding no value,” she said.
I asked her to view the dynamic from the other person’s perspective. It became clear that the situation wasn’t working for him either. I suggested that she thank the man for his contributions over the years and give him a gracious, loving out. The next day I received a happy email from my client–they had ended in a positive way. My CEO wrote: “Interestingly, what I did is exactly the same way I deal with my children–hold them with kindness and love, but be clear on what I want the outcomes to be.”
Coming from love as a business practice is such a radical notion. But why do we have this idea that the two don’t mix? As psychologist Rick Hanson points out in a recent email newsletter, “Love is woven into… your DNA: as our ancestors evolved over the last several million years, many scientists believe that love, broadly defined, has been the primary driving force behind the evolution of the brain. Bands of early humans that were particularly good at understanding and caring for each other out-competed less cooperative and loving bands, and thereby passed on the genes of empathy, bonding, friendship, altruism, romance, compassion, and kindness – the genes, in a word, of love.”
What Hanson is pointing out is that using love at work is actually part of what it was designed for. We’ve just been taught to separate the two—love is for home, toughness for work. But what if re-examined our mindset and took down the little walls between the two in our minds? What if we came from ubuntu, the belief that I exist only in connection to you, as I explored last week?
This does not mean we open ourselves to abuse or just let someone else run over us. In his newsletter, Hanson points to a way to practice love in a balanced way: “In situations, open to your own lovingness. Privately ask yourself questions like: As a loving person, what is important to me here? Trusting in love, what seems right to do? Remember that you can be strong – and if need be, create consequences for others – while staying centered in love or one of its many expressions (e.g., empathy, fair play, goodwill). What happens when you assert yourself from a loving place?
“Tune into the lovingness in others, no matter how obscured by …their own fear or anger – like seeing a distant campfire through the trees. Sense the longing in people to be at peace in their relationships, and to give and get love. What happens in a challenging relationship when you stay in touch with this lovingness inside the other person? Notice that you can both feel the lovingness in others and be tough as nails about your own rights and needs.
“Don’t sentimentalize love or be naïve about it. Trusting in love does not mean assuming that someone will love you. It means confidence in the fundamentally loving nature of every person, and in the wholesome power of your own lovingness to protect you and touch the heart of others.” As my client said to me, “That’s the recipe for true power.”