February Third Thursday EE Community Conversation #Love

By Shelley J. Doyle for Enlivening Edge Magazine

The theme for February’s EE Community Conversation was Love, in recognition of Valentine’s Day. Host Doug Breitbart offered the group an eye-opening reminder of what intimacy really means: into-me-see. Before delving into our breakout rooms, we were encouraged to have honest and deep conversations, free from judgment, and with 100% presence.

In the breakout space, we covered the topic of Love in relation to work environments. I shared a personal account of feeling love in the workplace around 15 years ago; at that time, I worked in London at a boutique PR agency of 5-6 ladies. It was an intimate environment, where we became part of one another’s life, and the lives we had independently were shared freely.

After 3 years, the agency was sold and one by one the team disbanded. I worked as a freelancer for many years, dipping in and out of agency life before feelings of love really had the opportunity to emerge.

Later I collaborated with a number of independent practitioners and I would say that there were moments of intimacy and love, particularly with one colleague with whom I’d previously shared an agency experience; but working largely remotely, geography was often a barrier to frequent doses of love since virtual meetings were largely agenda-focused instead of heart-centered.

Reading Frederic Laloux’s book, Reinventing Organizations, I woke up to the idea of no preexisting meeting agendas. In some Teal organizations, people connect when the time feels right for a meeting, and agenda topics are shared at the start—to discuss what needs to be discussed rather than what should be discussed based on a historical format. This could certainly free up a bit more time for love.

I took a corporate role in 2017, which was fast-paced and task-focused. With young children at home, I was often conscious of the time, however, I still managed to launch a wellbeing initiative and led some happiness at work sessions, so I hope that more love was felt between colleagues, as a result of my efforts. I made some friends, but did we cross the threshold of love? This is a question I needed more time to process.

One dictionary definition of love is: “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”. Based on this definition, there was certainly love in my corporate environment. I shared physical and digital space with this crew when the Covid pandemic hit.

My manager called me one evening to advise me not to return to the office the following day. He cared about my wellbeing enough to give me a choice, even when it may not have been in the best interest of the company. I stayed with the company for a further 16 months and didn’t see the majority of my colleagues in person again.

At the time I remember being thankful that I had already built physical relationships because it made our virtual relationships that bit easier. I would occasionally book a 10-minute coffee chat with someone I didn’t work directly with, but would often see in the office. It wasn’t as frequent as it could have been, but I always came off those calls with an oxytocin hit of warmth, and… I guess love, although I definitely would not have related to the term at the time!

Coming back to the EE call, I found the ideas that my breakout partner Doug Breitbart shared were incredibly valuable, including the need to shift from an organization mindset to an organism mindset.

Then, returning to a group setting, conversation topics included (but were far from limited to):

  • Why is there so much fear to express love but not to express hate?
  • Does the emergence of wellbeing programs in corporate environments inhibit the necessary changes from occurring, which is why there’s such a need for wellness programs in the first place?
  • If you’re Being love, and radiating it, that’s safer in a work environment than loving words or actions.
  • Do anti-harassment policies actually inhibit expressions of caring and concern?
  • Maybe if we’re not allowed to bring ‘love’ to work, we can bring kindness, caring, concern, considerateness, generosity, support, and helpfulness.

It was a thoughtful conversation topic that will enrich my days, weeks, and months to come. Thank you, Enlivening Edge, Host Will for bringing your warmth and handling the tech, and Host Alia for recommending this theme. I will join you again, Third Thursday in March.

Shelley J. Doyle: I am becoming a community connector in the Metaverse, introducing people who are ready to dive into this brave new world to realize how it can change the way we work and the way we live, for the better.

I have spent the majority of my career as a PR freelancer working across some of London’s top PR Agencies. I set up my own agency in 2012 and then re-entered the workplace in 2017 – managing the internal communications for a large European organization.

I am currently studying for an MA at Royal Roads University in Victoria, Canada, focused on Leadership and Community. I am particularly interested in independent innovation, global connections, original thought, conscious leadership, self-management, truth, community, and social good. https://www.linkedin.com/in/shelleydoyle/