Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone but its meaning and importance are timeless. February is our annual reminder that love and heart belong in all aspects of life – including business. We demonstrate love and heart in business with the time and effort we invest in people and on behalf of people, through the patience and understanding we show, and with the ways in which we co-create with our actions.
One of the best writers on the subject of love is Thich Nhat Hanh, author of How to Love, which can easily be a guide for how to treat people in business as well as our personal lives. Here are some of my favorite quotes from his book that can guide us.
Hearts Are Like a River
“When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and we can embrace others. We accept others as they are.”
Accepting people as they are and want to be accepted requires that we suspend judgement and open our minds and hearts. Leave assumptions and judgement at the door.
Listen with Patience
“Practice listening deeply. Sometimes the other person will say something that surprises us, that is the opposite of the way we see things. Allow the other person to speak freely. Don’t cut them off or criticize their words.”
Pay attention, focus on the whole person. Let what the other person says guide the conversation.
Understanding Is the Nature of Love
“Understanding someone’s suffering is the best gift you can give another person. Understanding is love’s other name. If you don’t understand you can’t love.”
People have an innate desire to be seen, to be heard, and to have their needs responded to. It takes practice to be compassionate and understanding – it’s a skill that serves us all well.
The Art of Offering Happiness
“Sometimes you think that you’re doing something for someone else’s happiness, when actually your action is making them suffer. The willingness to make someone happy isn’t enough. You have your own idea of happiness. But to make someone else happy, you have to understand that person’s needs, suffering and desires and not assume you know what will make them happy Ask, ‘what would make you happy?'”
This is a key to success in all relationships. Do we know what makes them happy? Are we making them happy?
We are Artists
“Goodwill is not enough. Your good intentions are not enough, you have to be artful. We may be filled with goodwill’ we may be motivated by the desire to make the other person happy; but out of our clumsiness, we make them unhappy…Mindful living is an art, and each of us has to train to be an artist.”
Mindful living and working is an art. Art and heart belong everywhere in our lives, including in business.
We Are Healers
“The Sanskrit word karuna is often translated as compassion. Compassion means to ‘suffer with’ another person, to share their suffering. Karuna is much more than that. It’s the capacity to remove and transform suffering, not just to share it. When you go to a doctor, it doesn’t help if she just shares your suffering. A doctor has to help heal the suffering. You need to understand the cause of the suffering in order to help bring relief.”
Karuna is what happens when we use our knowledge, compassion, and creativity to make the world a better place. It belongs in our business lexicon.