Cultivating peace at work


We’re watching organizations come close to imploding daily. Violence – if you take a broad view of what that means – abounds everywhere in our workplaces. The kind of violence I speak of is not as readily obvious as bodily harm, war or mass killings, but it could be a form of violence nonetheless. The slow killing of employee’s spirit with the stress of expectations beyond what is humanly possible is a kind of psychological battle in and of itself.

Can we explain that the constant fear of job loss really isn’t a form of violence perpetuated by the way we do business today? Have you noticed the slow advance of the implicit idea that technology could create super-employees on which our workplaces place undue expectations? Are you ready to recognize and address the stress that is caused with often-inhumane workplace practices?

When people are stressed (and many are in our modern workplaces), a form of psychological harm occurs. I believe that you, as a leader, can make a difference amidst this war with every heart you touch. When you begin by making peace within yourself, and then within your organization, the conflict can ease and some peace can be at hand. With peace the rewards can be great – employees who once lived in fear become motivated employees who want to make a difference.

Peace begins with you.

How to cultivate your own peace:

Renounce violence in yourself. Deal with the stress that threatens violence in your own life by finding a way to cultivate peace in your heart. Exercise, eat well, meditate, do yoga, reflect on gratitude, forgive, pray, avoid external overt violence (in the media in particular), put your relationships and family first. Notice damaging thoughts about yourself and others and turn them around methodically to find goodness. Do whatever it takes to be resilient and strong in the face of the violence that is all around you.

How to impact peace in others:

Model for others what you are doing to cultivate internal calm. Encourage peace at work through coaching others to express kindness, understanding and gratitude. Do not tolerate the verbal violence that others perpetuate. Be aware that every thought you have and every word you speak either supports the violence around you or cultivates harmony. Allow those you lead to do what it takes to keep themselves and their families healthy and peaceful. Speak up against the systematic killing of spirit in the workplace.

You can make a difference in this, and you will see the impact on your bottom line. Cultivate peace in your own heart, and look for ways to impact those who follow you, one spirited person at a time.

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

2 comments on “Cultivating peace at work

  1. Hi Mary Jo,
    I like your approach to this topic which actually causes much quiet trouble at work.

    When people choose words that can communicate disagreement of ideas w/o disrespecting the person — and truly own the impact of their words — then you can have productive harmony.

    Harmony is not repression of thought nor avoidance of discussion. It is sometimes the vehement exploration of diverse ideas to reach a unified agreement (harmony) — done without attack against those with the different ideas.

    I meet leaders who are concerned that a search for harmony threatens results and others who believe you can’t have results without a concurrent harmony.

    In the end, each person practicing honesty not bluntness contributes to a valuable harmony that can yield incredible innovation and success.

    Here are two posts that express my thoughts even further:

    I think your post will generate much discussion for it goes to the heart of individual differences and needs.

    Great post.

  2. Thanks Kate, and thank you for the links; excellent articles.

    I think that until we recognize our thoughts and actions as having the potential for violence or harmony, we cannot heal ourselves and thus make a difference in our organizations. You’ve made a lovely distinction here that explains why people may avoid “harmony” even as it is an important element of the collaboration we need in order for our organizations to be healthy! Thanks!

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