Is it OK to have love in the workplace?
I am not talking about eros love. I am referring to philia love, or maybe even agape love. The ancient Greeks have many words for the English word “love.”
Eros is romantic love. This word originated from the Greek mythology god of love and sex. Philia love is a friendship or brotherly love, as in the city of Philadelphia (the “city of brotherly love”). Agape is a deeper, unconditional love. This love is given, even if it is not returned.
Medical professionals say that people who have loving friendships have more positive emotions. They also experience lower blood pressure, fewer doctor visits and are more resilient when hardships occur. Why wouldn’t we want to have more philia love if it makes us healthier?
The topic of love makes many people uncomfortable. I used to believe that love was only for a select few in my life, for my husband, kids and parents. I have learned that I have agape love for these people. My husband, John, has showed me that there are multiple layers to love. I can express philia love to anyone. Love is so much more than sexual.
It is normal for John to greet his friends and acquaintances with a hug. He is not afraid to tell you that he loves you.
Imagine leaving a meeting and having your co-worker say, “I love you guys. See you next week.” Or receiving an email that says, “I love you all. I am so glad you are on my team!” Are you cringing right now? Is this awkward for you?
Predictably, this openness to love has gotten John into trouble at work. It is not uncommon for John to be called into leaders’ offices to be scolded for loving too much. John will naturally greet the leader with a hug before the admonishment.
When I think about people that I agape love, I treat them differently than others. I think about these loved family members often and purchase gifts for them as I find things that I know they would enjoy. I also talk to them differently. I share my experiences, ideas, and fears with them. I have empathy and compassion toward them as I watch them grow in life. I trust them and know that they will not do me wrong.
Imagine if we had love within our work environments. What could we do if we shared ideas and freely brainstormed with our co-workers without feeling paranoid that someone will steal our ideas and get the credit that we deserved? How high could we grow if we trusted that our work family has the best intentions for the entire company rather than only themselves?
The layer of love that we have in our heart shows in our thoughts and actions. To truly love takes courage.
It is a choice, not just a feeling. John permitted me to love anyone. I have been blessed as I have learned to freely give of my authentic self in these relationships. I encourage you to give philia love at work and find the blessings of true teamwork.