Do you feel loved in your setting?
I know, I know, we try not to use words like ‘love’ in our social settings, especially when it relates to work. But I beg you to try and find a better all-encompassing term for what we expect of others, and others expect of us inversely, in situations where we build bonds and desire people to look after us. Jesus quoted the Hebrew biblical law when it came down to defining how to treat a neighbour:
“Love your neighbour as yourself”
In other words, how would you like to be treated by someone you interact with in your ‘outside’ world? Treat them that way. It is incredible to think of how often we need to be reminded of this fact in our lives, that we desire to be respected, trusted, and protected, in our tribes and cohorts. You want to know that your boss sees value in your work, that your friend will confide in you when they are hurting, or that you can go to sleep at night knowing the next-door neighbour will not burn your house down while you dream. That last one is a bit extreme, but you get the picture.
We want all the elements of being loved without acknowledging what it means in life. The alternate sentiment is to say, others want these same things from you. We may not always know how to put that sentiment into words, but we sure know how it feels when it is betrayed. Or abused. Or neglected.
I like to use the word ‘love’ as a means of describing what I believe is the 3rd pillar in our social/vocational world of needs, but it is best understood in the actions it brings. CARE is essential in how we interact and build depth in all levels of relationships; from those we choose to those we have to learn to love.
We do not always care automatically. And we do not have to bring everyone into our inner circle of trust. But we need to take a risk with those relationships we find ourselves in and develop care for others. If we do not feel care, we need to speak up, or possibly step out. Care is just that important in our relationships.
I recently stumbled across a great post on social media from a leader in the non-profit world who used an object lesson to discuss getting stuck in old ways. He used the word ‘comfort’ as a term for one of the ways we can get locked into our ways of doing things, rather than making changes when needed. His example? A picture of his tattered t-shirt he loves to wear at home! Immediately upon reading the post, I looked down at what I was wearing. Yes, after 14 years of use, it may almost be time to put this one to rest…
Comfort can move us from being at ease with one another to taking each other for granted. And it often happens without notice, just like that cozy shirt that one day no longer looks like a shirt. Comfort is key in creating a caring space, but when not monitored, can be key in destroying how we care.
So what do you do about your care? How do you establish it in your group? Well, I love a good acronym, so here you go! Stay TRUE in caring:
Do you trust people around you? And do you provide a space for others to trust you?
Trust is a built through personal investment in someone or something consistently over time. Trust is a necessity in working together and helping people know you are safe. In turn, they are safe. No trust, no safety, no care. When trust is present we create space for others to be honest and do their best, and to know we have their best in mind.
Do you feel respected? Are you seen as a separate and unique moral agent? Do others feel this from you?
Respect is one of those things that is often given to be received. But there is a measure that should always be given, no matter what you have done. And as much as you expect it, you need to give it. Respect is our way of helping a person aspire to what they could be, but also know they are not just an object to be used. Respect creates space for correction and
True respect helps us be accountable to one another in what we hope to achieve together.
Do you seek to know others? Do you allow yourself to be known?
We all desire to be known by others, but we also know what betrayal feels like. To admit something about yourself that is not quite ‘cool’ is a risk at that best of times. Now try being in a team setting where you could struggle, fail, loose your cool, say something stupid, etc. and desire to be forgiven. Or at least to have another day. To understand is to seek to be understood.
Understanding will always be a risk, but authentic transparency helps us see the person, not make people into cogs in our machine.
Do you feel acknowledged in what you do? Do you acknowledge others around you?
The old saying goes, a little encouragement goes a long way. Anecdotally, we need more encouraging words in our life and work to overcome discouraging ones. If you feel constant discouragement, you are not feeling care. Encouragement keeps on mission as well, because when our encouragement tank is full we are more open to being redirected or challenged in what we are doing.
So, do you feel loved? How about the people on your team? Don’t just find a comfortable place to hide, create a comfortable environment for people to TRUEly care.