I heart work

radiating heartIn most workplaces, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have anything to do with work. (In fact, it can be downright distracting to watch co-workers get deliveries of flowers, balloons, and chocolates, especially if you’re wondering when your turn is!) The reason? Love isn’t really considered a professional emotion.

In a recent Chicago Tribune article (I just Work Here, January 20, 2014), Rex Huppke says that’s a shame because although office romances can be complicated, love’s broader meaning of kindness, respect, and empathy should play a central role in everyday interactions at work. I wholeheartedly agree.

Huppke cites a study by management professors Sigal Barsade and Olivia O’Neill. They have conducted a study that shows how “a culture of companionate love” is good for employees and clients and is one of the basic emotions of human experience.

The study defines companionate love as the sense of warmth, affection and the friendly connections that bind us. Barsade said she believes our inability to separate the idea of passionate love from companionate love is the reason love is so often overlooked in the workplace.

They said employees who felt they worked in a “culture of companionate love had less absenteeism, were better at teamwork, were more satisfied with their jobs and experienced lower levels of emotional exhaustion.” Further, they found that “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.”

So if your workplace lacks companionate love, how can you improve? It’s up to leaders to create a culture where compassion, kindness, civility, and sympathy are encouraged, modeled, and rewarded. And it’s up to all employees to put this into practice, so that companionate behaviors are deeply embedded into the organization.

Know of any organizations where a companionate culture is thriving? Let me know! Meanwhile, I wish you a heartfelt day.


About Jaya Koilpillai Bohlmann
Global corporate communication, business, and organization behavior executive; author. My blog, DesigningCommunication, offers inspiration, insight, and tips for all professionals who want to express themselves effectively, and lead with integrity.

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