Psychological safety, trauma-informed functioning, emotional intelligence, and mental health are common organizational focuses today. At the root of these are the need for a deep understanding and establishment of, conditions that foster peace, joy and love in people so they function at their best and lead with their most generous and supportive intentions. To be seen, heard and understood is at the heart of affirmation, the greatest contributor to positive customer experience, employee experience, and your bottom line.
“Affirmation is a three-step process which occurs when one person is the source of unconditional love and emotional strengthening for another person”
Conrad Baars, Author of Healing the Unaffirmed
The work of LifeWork Systems is fundamentally a response to the powerful contributions of Conrad Baars and Alfred Adler, two incredible men who recognized the need for all people to feel lovable, affirmed. Affirmation is a kind of love that is felt because it is unselfish, mature, and authentic; it does not demand anything first. Only when people have the space provided by those capable of affirmation, can they experience themselves as good, worthy, lovable. Only then do they overflow in a similarly unselfish manner with others, including coworkers, family members, friends, neighbors, and customers.
Sadly, most people have not received this type of mature, thoughtful love and respect. Instead, neglect and manipulation often lead them to feeling rejected and abandoned. They may become insecure, depressed and unable to create the friendships and support they need to be empowered, connected, contributors. A vicious cycle ensues, accompanied by feelings of inferiority, an often un-recognized dis-ease with oneself and others, leading to all manner of negative outcomes. Baars said, “Being affirmed is having one’s goodness revealed to oneself by another.” The following steps are descriptive of key principles of affirmation in the work of LifeWork Systems:
- Affective presence: Being aware, attentive, and fully present with a person is being with them rather than doing for or to them. Many think making people feel lovable is synonymous with giving them things, saying things to them, and doing things for them. Rather, it is primarily being with them, with feeling. Our practical applications of affirmation are delivered through concepts and tools taught to entire communities so that deep attentiveness offsets what is sometimes decades of emotional and intellectual neglect.
- Being moved. Affective is being moved emotionally. Only by being moved to delight in another’s goodness, as they are, separate from and before anything they may, or can do, will they be strengthened. Being moved is a felt experience by the other, because it is reflected in body language, tone of voice, a warm gaze, and patient, kind energy. Being moved creates something we have all experienced at one time or another: GEMs – genuine encounter moments. GEMs occur when one has humility and a willingly to put aside one’s own needs to offer the gift of full witness to another. More than any technique or tool, being moved to delight in others, is the greatest character trait in all extraordinary people, including exceptional leaders.
- Revealing. A person who is capable of leading others to wholeness, is not in self-protection. The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference AND, indifference is a hallmark of self-protection. When one is not only moved by others but also allows the affect to be revealed, it is felt by the other. In our work, we call this the teamwork stage “empty.” Empty is when one provides deep receptivity (presence), recognition of the gifts and value of another, and respect for their uniqueness (both being moved) and disclosure without an agenda to convert, heal or change another (revealing). Empty requires relinquishing insecurities, terrors, prejudices, hatreds, and other fear-based, limiting beliefs one has been conditioned to believe and adopt.
Helping people be seen, heard, and understood so they feel lovable may seem like a squishy, take-it-or-leave it kind of objective, especially in the work world. I challenge you to think deeply on this. After all, why be in business if you and everyone involved does not experience greater peace, joy, and love as a result? That’s a question worth considering in the face of today’s painful challenges and lack of mental health. Let us see, hear and understand you – so we can fully support you!
Why People Hire Judy Ryan and LifeWork Systems
Business owners, community leaders, and educators hire Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary workplace and recognize a systems approach ensures consistency and sustainability in the transformation process. They know that conscientious employees grow your business and improve your reputation, giving you competitive advantages. We help organizations instill into every person a common language and toolset for how to participate in a responsibility-based Teal workplace. Visit our website at www.lifeworksystems.com, and click the link at the bottom to complete a culture assessment and schedule your first consult to review a report on your feedback, all at no cost. You can also contact Judy Ryan at 314.239.4727 or at email@example.com.
This article is published in Judy’s column The Extraordinary Workplace produced by the St. Louis Small Business Monthly, in June 2023.