I was talking to a group of Aboriginal leaders recently and one of them, in the break, asked me, tongue in cheek, this question, ‘What if people don’t want love?’
And because my message is always centred around compassion, this is relevant. I encourage managers to use compassion when dealing with their teams. This goes a long way to help create mentally healthy workplaces. So, It’s a relevant question: are there some people that don’t want love? (Besides psychopaths, of course). Just to clarify, when I say ‘love’ here, I am not talking about romantic love (although it could apply too), but more generally, about that compassion, respect, unconditional positive regard for another human being, simply because they are a human being, with all the struggles and challenges that entails.
So, back to my question ‘are there people who just don’t want love?’ I have met people that assured me this was the case with them. They said they didn’t like people and didn’t want love. They even distrusted the idea of love and people saying they loved them. After a little additional exploring, it became apparent that some are angry, frustrated or disappointed at people. These people are not generally not wanting love but in fact, having a deep yearning for it and have been deeply hurt or let down by others. As a protective mechanism, their psyche has built defences that keeps others at arms length.
In my experience, these individuals are deeply caring individuals, sensitive souls, eager to connect meaningfully with others but don’t know how to go about it. It is natural for human beings to want to feel connected to others and to want to be able to do so safely. To be yourself and to be loved unconditionally. Without negative judgement of you as a person. To be held in positive regard. To feel that we somehow matter to someone else. We yearn for this. We desire this deeply and, if we don’t get it, then our psyche reacts – either through apathy, isolation, distrust, complaining, undermining,…you name it. If we don’t get what we need, we’ll manufacture situations to get some semblance of what we need. For example, These manufactured situations are likely to become a drain to your team’s resources resulting in stress, conflict and chronic negativity.
Best be avoided.
So it makes sense that if we want our people to develop a strong commitment and loyalty to their work, and our people want to feel valued, loved, and wanted, we managers would do well to provide that. But, how do we do that in the workplace?
My next blog will give you three proven techniques to address the emotional needs of your team. Stay tuned.