published Monday, May 10th, 2010

McLeod: Why we’re weirded out by the ‘L word’


by Lisa Earle McLeod

People are weird about love. Everybody wants to be loved, but nobody wants to talk about it.

We’ll tell a stranger how much we love our iPod. Yet we find it difficult to look into the eyes of our parent, spouse or child and proclaim the same thing. One place we’re really weird about love is at work. We want our customers to love our products, we want our employees to love their jobs, and we want the market to love our stock. But bring up the “L word” in a management meeting, and people will start to get uncomfortable.

I used to be weird about love. I make my living as a sales and leadership expert. I speak at a lot of big meetings, and clients often call upon me to help get their people more enthused and inspired.

I used to use code words like passion and motivation. Then I realized, this is stupid. The subject we’re really dancing around is love, and we need to be brave enough to just come right out and say it — not in a meaningless manner, but for real.

Think about it.

How weird is it that companies want their employees and customers to love them, yet they’re reluctant to talk about how they, as an organization, can be more loving? How strange is it that, when someone says, “I love my job,” or “I love my boss,” it is a compliment to the organization, yet very few bosses are willing to stand up at a meeting and express their love for their team?

The truth is, expecting to get love back from your job, or the market or your staff, without being willing to put any love in is just as silly as expecting your kids to love you when you rarely treat them lovingly. Or expecting your spouse to love you when all you do is complain about the fact that they don’t. Oh, right, we do that, too. Like I said, we’re weird about love.

The problem is that we tend think of love as a noun. It’s something we want to get, and we’re reluctant to give any away until someone gives it to us first. But love doesn’t work that way. It’s a verb, and the way you create it is by putting it into action. We may be more comfortable throwing around the “L word” in inconsequential way, as in, “You’re gonna love our new double-stack burger,” or “Wow, I love these new computers.” But if we truly want to generate passion and enthusiasm, we have to be willing to show up with it. And that means not only talking about love, but also demonstrating it.

Showing up with love for coworkers, your boss or your customers isn’t really any different than showing up with love for your family. It’s about listening, it’s about caring, it’s about making time for them and, above all, it’s about deciding that you give a darn about their feelings, even when it’s not convenient for you.

Love isn’t some wimpy, woo-woo emotion. It’s the most powerful motivator on this planet, and when you bring it into the workplace, amazing things happen. I used to be weird about love at work. But I’m not anymore. I love my people. I love the work that we do, and I love our clients. And I’m not the least bit embarrassed about it.

Lisa Earle McLeod is an author, columnist, keynote speaker and business consultant. Contact her at LisaEarleMcLeod.com

about Lisa Earle McLeod...

Contact Lisa Earle McLeod at www.ForgetPerfect.com

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