Anyone who works in “The Office” knows sometimes there is a failure to communicate. Per email conversation, context can get lost in translation.
So, why then, in the age of the Me Too Movement, are coworkers saying: I Love You?
I’m guessing it’s thanks to our digital lifestyle?
No, I’m not a Boomer. Thank you very much. That’s a different editorial. But, I’ve been working since way back in the day. A time when we wore tennis shoes with nylons. Wait, that’s still a thing?
Alas, I digress.
If we consider the culture of work, particularly in the case of some start-ups, it’s not uncommon for there to be beer in the workplace, casual dress – meaning you have clothes on – and possibly a more youthful expectation around communication.
So, f*ck yeah, dude, I love you!
With the use of workflow apps like Slack, where people can text you – while on the toilet, no less. I mean, who hasn’t told a colleague, “OMG! You are a f@cking ?” after dealing with a challenging situation/customer/boss/client and that colleague comes to the rescue.
Just me? Oops.
Maybe it started back with the I Love You Man commercial, which also became the title of a bromance.
If the bros can have their bromance, then why can’t we all say those three words in the workplace?
I’m not gonna spoil the party and say never. I’m just going to suggest some things are better left unsaid.
First, words are powerful.
Because this is the era of Me Too, it’s easy for there to be misinterpretation. What if a woman says it to a male colleague. A boss says to a much junior employee.
Can you say harassment?
One of my former managers didn’t even like me saying her name. I can’t imagine what she’d do if I said: “I love you.”
But, here’s a real reason. People are happy with us one day and not the next.
Keeping it chill and professional is important. For example, I once called my co-worker – and very good friend – a nasty Spanish word and it almost resulted in a knife fight. What I learned is one day you are joking around and your friend isn’t.
Second, a laissez-faire attitude toward communication can become second nature. You can’t be accidentally telling your client, you love them, now can you? I mean, beyond being authentic, those words mean a lot to some people, just tossing them about shows a real lack of judgment and can result in an extremely negative response.
Which leads me to my last point.
“Et, tu Cheryl”
One company I worked at hired Gallup to do a survey of staff. One of the questions was about having a work BFF, which is important in the workplace. Often we have our work husband or wife or sister, even. We all need someone we can lean on.
In the workplace, depending on the culture and environment, it may be a good place to keep it 100 or, if too toxic, a better place to fake it. Even people who seem to be on your side might be just waiting to pounce.
Get too close, say the wrong thing and Cheryl gets your office with the window and the red stapler too.
All I’m saying is keep it real, but maybe not too real.
Oh, and btw, I <3 U.