Episode 55

Why It's So Hard to Be Loving at Work

Published on: 29th August, 2022

Faithful on the Clock is a podcast with the mission of getting your work and faith aligned. We want you to understand Who you're serving and why so you can get more joy and legacy from every minute spent on the clock. Thanks for joining us and taking this step toward a more fulfilling job and relationship with God!

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In this episode...

Why It's So Hard to Be Loving at Work


Offices are known as productive environments, but loving ones? Not so much. We’ll highlight three reasons why it’s so difficult to be loving on the job and what you can do to overcome those hurdles in Episode 55 of Faithful on the Clock.


[00:05] - Intro

[00:35] - Why it’s important to discuss being loving at work 

[01:14] - The first hurdle to being loving is the agenda, which constrains natural conversation and makes objectives, not people, the focus.

[02:28] - The second hurdle to being loving is time constraints. Full to-do lists leave little time for people to interact on deeper levels and learn each other’s love languages.

[03:40] - The third hurdle to being loving is social or regulatory constraints. People can fear retaliation, isolation, etc. or be hindered from making loving decisions by company policy/laws.

[04:38] - Building time into your processes will allow for better interaction and simultaneously force you to select what’s truly a top priority for your agenda.

[05:53] - Look at your policies and operations to eliminate bottlenecks, especially around collaboration. The more collaboration you’ve got, the more efficient people are and the more time they’ll have to learn about and love on each other.

[06:52] - Create spaces where people can share when not on task. This doesn’t have to cost tons of money.

[07:56] - Communicate clear intent about wanting a loving environment, model the love you want to see, and provide lots of opportunities so people can use the love languages they are most comfortable with. Refrain from micromanaging and do the inner work to understand where your social fears really come from. With mutual vulnerability, you’ll build trust.

[10:40] - Recap of 3 main points; Creating a loving culture is critical not just for the business, but because it’s what God wants.

[11:15] - Prayer

[11:55] - Outro/What’s coming up next

Key takeaways:

  • It’s important to talk about why it’s hard to be loving at work because we spend so much time at the office and need it to be a place where we’re able to be obedient to God.
  • The first thing that keeps people from being loving is the agenda. All the things people are trying to do constrain conversation and prevent us from learning about each other.f
  • The second issue that keeps people from being loving is time constraints. Companies don’t want to pay people to chit-chat and put pressure on people to do a lot in very little time.
  • The third issue that keeps people from being loving is social and regulatory constraints, such as a fear of hugging someone because others see that as not acceptable in a professional setting.
  • People can fight against the above issues by building allowances into meetings (i.e., padding time for the human element), examining their policies and operations to eliminate inefficiencies and bottlenecks, creating spaces where people can share, communicating clear intent through good modeling; providing multiple, different opportunities; and doing inner work to identify and then discuss underlying fears or biases.


  • Figure out one step you can take for each of the suggestions outlined in today’s show.
  • Intentionally observe those on your team and try to figure out which love language they might prefer you to use.
  • Schedule and complete an all-hands meeting to bring up the concept of being more loving within your company.

What’s coming up next:

Listen to a lot of the gurus out there and it’s easy to get the idea that you shouldn’t be afraid of anything. Ever. Episode 56 of Faithful on the Clock explains why the fearless mindset that’s so popular in business circles is actually harmful and needs to be put to bed.

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Happy day, everybody. You are listening to the Faithful on the Clock podcast, where the goal is to get your faith and work aligned. I'm your host Wanda Thibodeaux, and today we are breaking down why it's so crazy hard to be loving at work. What exactly stops us from being more kind and compassionate when we're on the job? Is there anything we can do to break down those barriers? Let's get things moving.


So, on the last episode of the show two weeks ago, I talked about love versus emotional intelligence and how, in essence, love and emotional intelligence really are the same thing. And so this week, I just want to continue that theme of love and talk about all of the things that can get in the way of showing that emotional intelligence or love to someone else at work. Because remember, the first commandment is to love God, but the second is to love your neighbor, right? And we spend the majority of our day, at least here in the United States, at work. And so if you're really a follower of Christ, you wanna be in a position where you're able to spend that time in obedience to Him.


So the first thing that I think really gets in the way of being loving at work is the agenda. Like, everybody goes in with really specific things that they have to do or really specific things that they want to talk about, and they really try to focus on hitting those bullet points. And I get that some of that is just logistic. So, for example, if you're not going to talk about a certain topic in a meeting, you might not even have to have certain people on your team attend that meeting. So it does matter just from a kind of nuts and bolts kind of standpoint. But I think often what happens is that the agenda starts to rule the interaction, right? Like, you end up being not able to talk about or do anything else, and everybody just gets really focused on checking things off a list or getting output. And so the conversation doesn't really flow as naturally, because if there are maybe some related things to talk about or maybe some deeper points, then they just kind of get shoved to the side because the mindset is, "Well, that's not what we came here to discuss!" or "We've got to keep things moving to stay on schedule!" So people can miss opportunities to be truly heard or understood. And the bottom line there is that the focus is on the objectives, not the people.


Now, all of this relates to the second major issue, which is time constraints. As people develop their agendas, I think there is enormous pressure to get employees to work as quickly as possible on as much as possible. And so there's not a whole lot of downtime where people can really just sit and talk and observe and get to know each other on a deeper level. Companies want to pay people for results. They don't wanna pay people to chit-chat. And so it becomes much more difficult to learn and understand what everybody's love languages are. So for example, let's say Joe Schmoe from accounting really likes doing acts of service for people. And maybe he'd run and get a coffee for somebody from the break room, but he doesn't because he's gotta get a file submitted by noon for payroll and he knows that if he takes the 10 minutes to go get the coffee he's not gonna have that file ready. Or maybe, you know, with work from home being more common now, maybe you've got somebody on your remote team who's really great at words of affirmation but she's not even on site to get the face time to say anything to anybody. So I think fighting that clock and kind of your situational things is a big part of it.


And third, there are big social or regulatory aspects to why people can't be loving. For example, maybe you're a manager and your love language is touch, but you don't dare to give an employee a hug to congratulate them on something because you're afraid they'll claim sexual or physical harassment. And I touched on this in the last episode, too, but there can be this fear that you're not going to look professional. So you might kind of hang back from what you wanna do. There's the idea of policy and fairness, too. You know, maybe you see someone is having a bad day, and you wanna give them the rest of the afternoon off, but you can't because your company has strict rules about when employees can take time off. Or maybe you think a certain tool would be really helpful at just one of your offices, but you don't get it because you're afraid employees at your other offices would say you're not being fair if they don't get the same thing, and you can't afford to get the tool across the board. All of those types of things can create real hurdles for people.


So then of course the question becomes, what are you going to do about it? To the first points of your agenda and time, one of the things you can do is to build allowances into your processes or meetings. You know, you kind of anticipate and pad things so, if somebody needs to spill their guts for 2 extra minutes or whatever, they can do that. So you can still keep a really similar agenda or goals, but you're just building more of the human side into the equation. And even if that means you have to drop some things off of your agenda, well, then guess what. That's not a problem, because all it's really doing is forcing you to identify what your true priorities are within your business. You know, I understand people wanna do a lot to be competitive, but you don't have to say yes to everything or take every opportunity that's in front of you. I always say you can do a lot of things at a mediocre level or you can be exceptional at just a handful of things. You get to choose on that, but my opinion is, if scaling down a little is going to both establish you as a leader and protect and connect your people, that's the superior choice.


So then the next point is, as you try to prioritize the right way and make better allowances, take a really hard look at your policies and operations. You know, try and identify where your inefficiencies and bottlenecks are that make it hard for people to interact and be compassionate. And more specifically, anything that gets in the way of collaborating is a problem, because the less collaboration there is, the less comfortable people usually feel being really open and taking care of each other. And keep in mind, too, it is this cyclic situation where, if you reduce friction or inefficiencies so that people can collaborate better, their collaboration and time together is going to allow them to get even more efficient with each other and be more effective. Then you have more time for them to spend really interacting on a deeper level that's not so nose to the grindstone.


The next thing is, make sure you're creating spaces where people can share. You know, I think everybody does the occasional company potluck, that's classic. But there are a lot of other options, too. For example, in one company I work with, we've got dedicated channels on Slack where people can share random thoughts or congratulate each other or share things related to the industry. And those types of platforms can be a great way for people to reach out to each other whenever they have a second. I mean that company, like I mentioned, they've got people in different time zones, different countries, and people are still sharing pictures of their kids or articles they found, funny memes they came across, all kinds of things. And it's just a really low-key way for everybody to see what everybody else is like when we're not in the middle of a task. So even if you don't have a huge budget or your people are all over the place, there are options out there. You just have to do some homework and find the tools or setups that make sense for your team.


So the last area, the social regulatory area, I highly recommend that you communicate clear intent. You know, be clear and come right out and say that you do want to create a loving environment where people feel safe and valued. Really be specific about where your boundaries are within that so people know what the behavior expectations are. But remember, communicating is not just lip service. People have to see you performing the loving behavior before they'll really take you seriously and trust you about it. So absolutely model what you wanna see. I think it's also important that you are providing lots of different types of opportunities so that people don't feel pressured to use one love language or another. So for example, if you want to encourage your team to do community outreach for the business, you can let somebody head over to the soup kitchen while somebody else goes over to the high school and does a motivational speech for the students there. It doesn't have to be all cookie-cutter where nobody has any autonomy over what they're doing. And this ties to a really common problem, which is micromanaging. A lot of the time people don't want to let go of the control that they have. But giving someone choice is one of the most loving things that you can do for anybody. So just let go a little bit and trust the people around you to make decisions that are good not only for themselves, but for the business. And my last recommendation in this area is to try to do some inner work and to figure out where your underlying fears actually come from. You know, why is it that you don't feel like you can tell someone you appreciate them? Or what do you think really will happen if you're late sending over that file? And once you've thought about those things and identified what’s underneath the surface, if it's appropriate to be honest with your team about those things, and I think it usually is, then go ahead and do it. You know, you can say, "Hey, I want to bring you a coffee, but I'm afraid I'll get yelled at because I've been yelled at before." You should be able to go to your boss or manager and say where you are uncomfortable and try to collaborate on a good solution. And the whole idea is that that vulnerability and openness about why you are uncomfortable or held back, I mean, you want to do it tactfully and at the right time. But it opens the door for you to have discussions where people can reciprocate with their own vulnerability. And over time, that exchange builds trust and becomes a catalyst for real transformation and change.


So to pull everything together, the three main things that stop people from being loving at work are agenda, time, and social or regulatory constraints. But you can address every single one of those areas in really practical ways. And if you take the time and have the courage to do that, eventually, you'll build a culture where love cuts through everything you do. That is not just important for things like morale or retention. It's important because it's what God wants us to do and have.


So let's take a moment to reconnect and love God and offer up a prayer.

Lord, as we close this show, I ask that you help us focus not so much on what we are doing, the objectives, but on how we are being. Break away all of the junk inside our heads that tells us that compassion isn't a productive thing or that the time to care is when our shift ends. Because love echoes who You are, establish that as our top team priority. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.


Well, everybody, that's the show. I hope you feel inspired to be a little bit more open and loving after listening to all of this. I think it is one of the biggest callings we've got. In the next episode, which remember, is in 2 weeks, I'm gonna talk about the fearless mindset and why it’s time to toss that sucker in the trash. If you haven't subscribed to the show, please go ahead and do that wherever you get your podcasts, or at our main page, faithfulontheclock.captivate.fm. hang in there everybody, and be blessed.

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About the Podcast

Faithful on the Clock
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast meant to get your Christian faith and work aligned. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
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Wanda Thibodeaux

Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.

Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.