Why We Hate Love (in the workplace)

“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

What I am about to share may make you a little uncomfortable. I believe when we are walking on the edges of life, when the fear is right in front of you, when you start to feel a negative emotion like hate, disgust, disappointment, anger, or even jealousy – that’s the time to get curious and find out why you are being triggered.

Take a moment to read the following and see what comes up for you. If you’re open to a new perspective, I guarantee you and I will learn something new together.

The Love Trigger

About a week ago, I received a request to be a keynote speaker for a coaching conference. I was really excited to learn more as I believe in coaching and the positive impact it has on life.

A friend who saw me speak at the last DisruptHR in Vancouver recommended me to be on the list of potential speakers. When I connected with the internal sponsor of the conference, she provided me with the intention and format of the event. The company sounded pretty amazing considering they were going to provide a 2-day conference focused on coaching for their team. Not many companies integrate coaching into their cultures, let alone even understand what it is. You can imagine my excitement.

After a few days, I received an email providing me with an update on the selection process.

The first email shared the following:

“Happy Monday Lorie,

I hope you are well. It was wonderful speaking with you last week. I am following up on our conversation. I met with our VP and AVP Retail to review the coaches I recommended for the conference and they felt your coaching style was not the right fit for the group we are targeting.

Thank you for your time and if you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.”

As I am an avid learner and always curious about how people make decisions, I replied with the following:

“Thanks for the update!

Out of curiosity, what style were they looking for and how would they describe my style?

Thanks for clarifying and providing additional feedback!”

A few minutes later, I received this response:

“Thanks Lorie, I provided them your website and your profile on the website. They were very uncomfortable with “love” and the story about the time you cried in an Executive meeting. The individuals are very much “bankers” and they wanted to have someone that was more like them.”

The first thought that came to mind after reading this email was “What? How can anyone be uncomfortable with love?”

It was as if I said the four letter word. Oh right, love is a four letter word! (smirk)

Since receiving that email, I couldn’t help but reflect on my response and the response of this company to my “style”.

The hidden treasure from this experience was igniting my curiosity to learn why we hate love, not just in the workplace, but in life in general.

What is it about love that scares us?

After some deep reflection, here are 6 common beliefs about love:

  1. Love is uncertain. Some of us simply do not understand it or know what it truly is. Therefore, there is a fear of the unknown. And if you don’t know what love is, then you cannot relate to it…period. It’s simply just a word.
  2. Love is uncomfortable. We have experienced some form of love and it wasn’t good. As much as love can feel good, it can hurt as well. Whether love has caused rejection, a break up, or abandonment, it brings up a feeling that we subconsciously don’t want to feel or experience. Therefore, we will do whatever it takes, even unknowingly, to avoid it or prevent ourselves from bringing more love into our lives, especially at work.
  3. Love means something different to everyone. When you Google “love in the workplace”, what you will find is a list of links to content that relates to office romance. Traditionally, that’s how love showed up in the workplace. I know a lot of people who have met their life partners at work and those are the positive experiences with love in the workplace. However, there are just as many bad experiences that have turned into some form of harassment. It happens frequently and therefore, many of us will likely take the easier road and not use the word “love” at work. The fear of love being misinterpreted just isn’t worth it.
  4. Love is a “soft” skill. We live in a world where skills like listening, compassion, empathy, caring and love are seen as soft and vulnerable, and dare I say, a weakness. Even though Brené Brown, Daniel Goleman, Simon Sinek, and Tony Robbins have courageously been speaking out loud about strengthening and embodying these human skills for years, many of us are still fearful of the consequence of doing so. For many, love or similar ways of being are still considered soft, fluffy and flaky…not words that we want to be described as a Leader or human being.
  5. Love is reserved for our personal relationships. One of the first pieces of career advice my mom gave me was to keep my personal life separate from work. At the time, I did not understand what she meant and I took it literally. Like many, we put on a mask as soon as we enter the office. We feel the pressure to show up a certain way so that we can fit in and impress the people and Leaders we work with. The challenge with this is that we are not completely our authentic selves and the pressure of being someone else, causes us to become stressed and as a result, drains our energy. Hence, the reason companies who encourage you to bring your whole self at work are thriving. It’s so much easier to be ourselves.
  6. I’m not worthy of love. There is a reason why the net worth of the self help and personal development industry is estimated to be more than $11 billion with an expected growth rate of 6.1% through to 2016. Oprah stated on her finale of The Oprah Winfrey Show that the common thread that runs through all of our pain and suffering is unworthiness. I’ve coached all types of people from business owners, executives, leaders, and teams and they/we all experience some level of insecurity. The root of all our problems is that we question our value and significance on a daily basis. Therefore, the lack of love we have for ourselves will naturally make us uncomfortable with love. Until we get to a place where we completely love ourselves, we will continue to struggle with our capacity to care for others.

Now that we know why we are uncomfortable with “love”, I would like to invite you to consider the importance of sharing more love.

Why Love Matters

I believe that bringing more love in the workplace is vital to the success of organizations because it’s innate and a part of being human. When someone feels cared for at work and at home, it creates a human connection that is undeniable. When we act or behave in a way that is more caring, helpful, supportive, grateful, compassionate, empathetic, and giving, there is part of our brain that releases the natural hormone called oxytocin, also widely referred to as the love hormone. Social bonding helps to produce oxytocin, which then increases trust and reduces fear and anxiety. In other words, we are born to love.

In a New York Times article featuring “What Google Learned from Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team”, it states that after years of research and data, the underlying key factor to a high performing team is creating psychological safety. They discovered there are two elements that enhance the feeling of safety: ‘‘conversational turn-taking’’ and ‘‘average social sensitivity’’. Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson published a study in 1999 that defined psychological safety as “…a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.” To summarize, it’s when teams have created a communication norm where everyone has a voice and are empathic to one another that makes a great team. That’s love.

Another source is one of the most popular TEDTalks from Simon Sinek on this topic called “Why good leaders make you feel safe”. When asked what the title of his book “Leaders Eat Last” really means, he replied “It’s “real” leadership, when a leader chooses to protect their team like a mother would protect her child from any harm.” That’s love.

Companies who have already integrated love into their workplace and all very successful billion dollar organizations enjoying double digit growth are ATB Financial, Whole Foods, Apple, Lululemon Athletica, Airbnb, Telus, Vancity, to name a few.

What if we looked at love differently?

Rather than get stuck on the word and the fears that come with it, take a chance and start changing your relationship with love.

Here are three simple ways to open yourself to love:

  1. Make a choice today to #chooselove. It’s scary I know. But the impact of showing up with more love is better than living in fear. It starts with you choosing and declaring to yourself that you’re ready.
  2. Learn more about love. Get intimate with love by asking the following questions: “What do I love about myself?”, “What do I love about those close to me?”, “What do I love about my team?”, “What do I love about my role?”, “What do I love about my company?”. Look for the themes between these questions and start to realize what love truly means to you.
  3. Share more love. There are 5 languages of appreciation at work (and similarly 5 love languages). Discover what your languages of appreciation are and for those around you and start sharing more love and appreciation. Get ready to receive as well. Love is contagious!

I know in my heart that I wasn’t born to live in fear. I also know that true happiness in life is when we have the courage to live and lead with love…even if it’s uncomfortable.

What will it take for you to #chooselove today?

Share in the comments below and connect with me today!


Lorie Corcuera