I often find myself walking out of a restaurant or movie saying, “I loved it.”
I loved the sunset tonight. I love sticky notes. I love good organic coffee. I love walking on the beach. I love artichokes. I love writing to you.
Do you find yourself saying those kinds of things? I’m sure you do.
And how often do you hear yourself say, “I love my job,” “I love my work” “I love my team” or maybe “I love my customers?”
[This is a good place to take a deep breath. Reflect, just for a moment. If you’re skimming – slow down and savor this moment – it will do you good.]
I’m going to bet you connect with the feeling of love a lot, even where commerce is involved.
We often say “I love…” when not talking about romance, or marriage, or Paris.
Love is more than it’s depicted in the movies. Love is a deep primal need. It’s our biological need for connection. It changes our brain, it changes our body, it changes our mind.
Recently I had the opportunity to study with one of my favorite teachers, Dr. Barbara Frederickson. I took a master class with her (and about 200 colleagues). The subject was her new book Love 2.0. Barbara is the Director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology (PEP) Lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and probably one of the best researchers in the world of Positive Psychology.
Barbara, a scientist, encouraged us to go way beyond our traditional definitions of love. She wants us to see love as our body sees love and disengage with our most cherished ideas about love to see it anew. It was a tall order. We all think we know what love is, based on our own experiences of it.
She stretched my mind, and made me think in new ways. Love, which she calls the Supreme Emotion, is BIGGER than the other positive emotions like joy, amusement, hope or gratitude – and the benefits of love run deeper, perhaps as she says, exponentially.
She tells us that love is perhaps the most essential emotional experience for thriving and good health. Other scientists agree that the experience of positive emotions is crucial to well-being.
While we may have many definitions of love, the body, she says, only has one: Love is the micro-moment of warmth and connection we share with another living being. Love is a momentary state which literally changes your mind. (Via biochemistry and changes in your brain patterns.)
She reminds us that no emotion is built to last. She encourages us to increase those micro-moments of love and connection in our lives, often. (Yes, that means at work too.)
When we share positive emotion with another – that’s love. When we connect with another and we can feel ourselves in sync – that’s love. When we feel that we want to invest in the well being of the other with our caring or helping– that’s love too. Her shorthand for this trio, as she calls them, is Positivity Resonance. When you resonate with another you are on the same wavelength – literally.
Those of you who have attended my programs understand this. We as leaders have the power to create this positivity resonance often. (Customer facing people do too.)
As leaders, when we ask, “What’s right?” and “What can we learn?” rather than “What’s wrong and who’s to blame?” we begin the process. When we resonate with another in one of those micro moments of connection, our brain chemistry and brain patterns begin to match those of the other.
When we have great interactions and experiences with co-workers and customers, our body hears that as “LOVE” and sends all the beneficial immunity-building-heart-protecting and brain-expanding benefits through our body and THEIRS. (I told you, emotions are contagious!)
Want to know why customers bond with companies that make them feel good about their interactions? Well, I’m here to say it’s beginning to look a lot like love.
Perhaps customer loyalty really is customer LOVE. Let’s celebrate that this week.
William James once said, the deepest human need we have is the need for appreciation.
Is appreciation love? Well, maybe.
If I tell the people I really do appreciate that I really do appreciate them, won’t they get soft? Won’t they get complacent? Won’t they stop performing?
These are some of the fears that surface when I talk to my Positive-Leaders-in-Training. It seems that somehow in our early leadership learning we got mixed up. Many of us thought that it was more important to point out people’s weaknesses (and help them improve) than to help them expand on their strengths and transcend their weaknesses.
Here’s the science: When people have the opportunity to spend time in their strengths their performance goes UP. When they spend time in their weaknesses – no surprises here – performance goes down.
Here’s my observation: When, on a regular basis, we see people doing things right and acknowledge them for it, when we praise and recognize their effort as well as accomplishment, it’s easier to have the crucial conversation about behavior when it’s not where we need it to be.
I don’t know about you, but I take feedback so much better from the people that I know can also see me when I am at my best. Constructive feedback, in that context leaves me feeling motivated.
When people know we care, and can feel that caring, they are more likely to want to get better when it’s in service of a larger mission – one of which they are part.
Appreciation. How often have I expressed it recently? Am I willing to risk letting people really know how much I appreciate them? Am I willing to let people know how much I care about them?
Research proves the highest performing managers have a need to express and to feel affection. What’s love got to do with it? Hmmm.
[Ahhh, another good place to take a breath and take that in. Positive Leaders reflect and take “Time In.”]
Have I told you lately that I appreciate you? I do, you know.
I love that you open my emails, read them and comment on them. I love that you resonate with the idea that love is actually part of the business and leadership equation and that when we build emotional bank accounts with customers (internal and external) we build equity in the relationship. I love that you are not willing to stay stuck in the old beliefs from the industrial age that are still operating in some businesses today. I’m thrilled that you are on this journey with me. The world needs us. Let’s shake it up a little bit. Start using the words happiness and love at work. Emotions are contagious. Let’s spread the good stuff around!
I appreciate you.
With gratitude and love, Happy Valentine’s Day