Posted by: healingtheworkplace | January 8, 2012

Do You Have a Friendly Workplace?

Greetings!

Do you have a friendly workplace? One that is hospitable?  According to Wikipedia hospitality…”involves showing respect for one’s guests, providing for their needs, and treating them as equals.”

Author Henri J.M. Nouwen provides us with another way of looking at this, “hospitality is a fundamental attitude toward our fellow human beings which can be expressed in a great variety of ways”.

Hospitality is about creating space to develop relationships with others. The opposite of hospitality is hostility and hostility is becoming increasing common in our rapidly changing and diverse world.

Unfortunately, hostility is also present in many of our workplaces.

“Many places that are created to bring people closer together and help them form a peaceful community have degenerated into mental battlefields. Students in classrooms, teachers in faculty meetings, staff members in hospitals and coworkers in projects often find themselves paralyzed by mutual hostility, unable to realize their purposes because of fear, suspicion, and even blatant aggression.”    Henri J. M. Nouwen – Reaching Out: The three movements of the spiritual life.

Sadly what people want is the opposite of this. I know from personal experience and from speaking with others that what is needed and wanted is kindness, a sense of being part of a community, and the opportunity to find meaning in working toward a common purpose.

All of this is dependent on having close relationships and friendships with the people we work with.

Hospitable workplaces are also friendly workplaces. This fact has not been lost on the Gallup organization which has studied workplace relationships for years.

“This quantifiable link between friendship and business results strongly suggests that fostering friendships should be a management priority.”  Gallup

In fact, the Gallup organization’s research led to the inclusion of “Do you have a best friend at work?” as one of the 12 questions on Gallup’s popular employee engagement survey.

Hospitality is a universal virtue that seems to be in danger of disappearing in our fast paced, competitive society.

What can we do to reverse this dangerous trend?

  • Become aware of how hospitable our organizations are
  • Reflect upon our own attitudes toward welcoming ‘the stranger’
  • Be mindful of how we bring people together at work
  • Invite people into the conversation about creating friendly workplaces
  • Experiment with using social media to create more hospitable work environments

What do you think? What have you tried that works?

Thanks! Lesley

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