When was the last time you told someone you loved them? When was the last time someone told you they loved you? How did it make you feel? Who said it? Was it a partner? Was it a child? Was it – shock horror - a colleague or a client?
With St Valentine’s annual arrival this week, the words “I love you” would’ve been sold, bought and muttered millions of times. I rolled out the same old jokes about being inundated with cards, gifts and flowers and regardless of your marital status, I’m sure the L word would’ve crossed your mind at some stage. Whether you’re a valentine saint or cynic, is celebrating love in times of extremism, inequality, innovation suffocation and corporate culture vulturism a bad thing?
Many years ago, Nelson Mandela said: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite”.
The first line of that quote was tweeted last August by former U.S. President Barack Obama following the tragic Charlottesville shooting. With over 4.6 million likes, it’s the most liked tweet of all time.
To love thy neighbour is nothing new. To get lots of likes on Twitter is (generally) why people tweet. But to reimagine the meaning of love in the corporate world is something I’ve been thinking about. Why? Because those three little words have the power to make you think, feel and behave differently. They’re a comfort blanket, a confidence booster and all round Mr. or Ms. Motivator.
I know, I know, it would be odd to walk around telling your colleagues, clients and/or corporate chums how much you love them. Quite frankly, there are times you probably wish you could tell them the complete opposite. The truth is, I often find myself wishing I could tell this group how much I loved them because I genuinely do; they give me ‘great interest and pleasure’*.
The other day I spent a full 24 hours wondering whether or not I should send an email to a client to tell them how much I admire and love working with them. What I was really trying to say was “I respect you and you deserve to be celebrated”. My professional veil descended and I didn’t send the email. In many ways, I wish I had because maybe (just maybe) that client would’ve loved to have heard it. How many people haven’t emailed their client or even colleague for fear of sounding weak or soppy?
In this humble Cupid’s opinion, the words “I respect you” are fundamentally what love is all about. If you genuinely respect someone, you can break down barriers, change minds, perceptions and reputations. If we all spent a little more time listening and looking at each other, I’m convinced we would all feel more loved, valued and respected. That’s no bad thing.
PS – I love you.
*English Oxford Living Dictionary definition of love