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Kindness at Work: A Must-Have of the 21st Century

Updated: Apr 13

In spirituality, the practice of loving kindness and meditation on compassion is well-established, guiding individuals towards greater empathy and inner peace. Yet, when we enter the workplace, these principles seem to fade into the background, supplanted by the drive for management efficiency and profit maximization. This disconnect poses a critical question: Is loving kindness inherently opposed to the principles of organizations and profit, or can it actually be a foundation for effective leadership and management?


Loving kindness is absolutely not about being always 'nice' or avoiding tough decisions. It's about cultivating a form of kindness that stems from a place of universal love—love for oneself, for life, and for all living beings. This form of kindness is not a sign of weakness; rather, it's a source of strength, perfectly compatible with the demands of work. Look at education where love for our children coexists with setting rules, providing feedback and punishment when necessary... It is not the easiest thing to do and sometimes parents get mad too, but love remains the foundation and it is compatible with education. Loving kindness in the workplace is also about guiding, supporting, and sometimes making hard decisions, all the while maintaining compassion and empathy.


Unfortunately, loving kindness at work mostly shines by its absence in challenging situations such as delivering negative feedback or a layoff. And it is precisely in these moments that its presence is most crucial. It is when someone makes a mistake that they need support and guidance and encouragement most, not hate and scorn. A workplace devoid of love and compassion is necessarily one where masks are worn, and roles are played, often at the expense of genuine connection and understanding. We are talking about a transformation that is profound, demanding a shift away from organizational structures predicated on power dynamics and submission towards a model where support, guidance, and encouragement are paramount. It requires organizations to shift from their military based model of power to an educational-like structure: less like the army, more like university!


This shift begins with redefining the qualities we value in managers and leaders. The best managers should resemble educators: individuals capable of supporting, training, and offering feedback in a manner that fosters growth and development. Currently, the preference often leans towards individuals who can direct, supervise, and judge, because they appear strong. Businesses are usually equating kindness with weakness. Yet, true strength lies in the ability to deliver difficult messages with compassion, understanding that loving kindness can bridge gaps and transform workplace dynamics.


If the notion of integrating loving kindness into management practices seems far-fetched, consider starting with the promotion of peace, fun, and enthusiasm first. These elements must flourish as a prerequisite to introducing leadership and management styles rooted in loving kindness anyway. As we continue our series "Joy at Work," we will explore these next four dimensions: gratitude, fulfillment, bliss, and oneness, laying the groundwork for a new approach where our values at work become compatible with our values in life, a better life.



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