In August, Lean In D.C. hosted an interactive workshop with Amira El-Gawly, Founder + CEO of Manifesta, to reimagine what it means to approach our work and colleagues with greater love and humanity.
At the onset of the discussion, Amira challenged the ways we have been conditioned to think about work: to challenge our beliefs that our role at work is constrained to producing and performing. She emphasized that many of us determine our value by our productivity and output at work, by our interactions with colleagues, or by how our colleagues perceive our value-add to the company.
While our work product and productivity are important, they should not come at the expense of recognizing each other’s humanity and loving one another. Amira questioned the audience: what if we could look past a person as someone who owes us a deliverable by 6 pm, and instead first see them as a human with a unique life situation and set of emotional needs? After all, we are all human. We all need to feel loved, cared for, and recognized for our whole being, not just the part of us that shows up to work or to a meeting.
In order to see others as human, we first need to see ourselves as human. While this may seem simple, it is counter to what the world has taught us. The world tells us that we need to separate our personal selves from work- “it’s just business”. The world encourages us to define our lives by work milestones, achievements, and activities. It compares us to other individuals solely based on our answer to “what do you do?”. But we are human first. And we must teach ourselves to love ourselves. We must teach ourselves that we are smart, we are beautiful, we have talents, and who I am makes an impact in this world. Amira emphasized that no one is going to have your back, if you don’t have your own back.
When we allow ourselves to see our value and to love ourselves, then we can become ambassadors for compassion and love in our workplaces. Amira highlighted that the ways in which you show love in the workplace is dependent upon your work culture. If you feel comfortable saying “I love you” to your co-workers, then go for it! If that feels like too big of a step, then there are so many ways to show love to those you work with, lead and work for: advocate for a coworker, fight for justice within the workplace, give time/advice without expecting anything in return, identify strengths in others and show your appreciation, share truth kindly. These are all expressions of love.
This shift in mind to seeing our coworkers as humans first is not only beneficial to our own life but it has been shown to help the company’s bottom line. Employees who feel personally appreciated are motivated to work harder and are emotionally invested in the well-being of the organization. Managers who feel appreciated by their teams will go out of their way to support their growth and personal goals.
Everyone can be a change agent for their workplace culture. You can be an ambassador and bring love to your workplace. Just make sure to remember that a key part of that is to love yourself, too.
Interested in reading more about bringing love to work? Read Amira’s Culture School letter on this subject.
Manifesta is a workplace design agency founded on the belief that organizational culture has the power to transform the way we live and work for the better. Manifesta exists to help teams cultivate healthy and positive culture, lead teams through interactive learning experiences, and guide leaders to leverage their unique talents and strengths. If you are interested in working with Manifesta at your organization, check out their website or email Amira directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a discovery call.
Please use Amira and Manifesta as a resource to improve your organization’s effectiveness and culture. Connect with Amira and her work: