Is your workplace built on love – or fear?

Here are 2 ways to tell.


We are embedded in fear – more deeply than we realize, much of the time. It’s ingrained, so we don’t even realize it much of the time. It’s become part of our autopilot at work – and in life.

If you want to see whether you’re operating mostly out of fear or out of love, there are two places to look: the actions you take and the language you use.

Fear actions:

  1. Monitoring people’s time at work (because you’re afraid they won’t work otherwise)
  2. Not talking about whether the women are being paid the same as the men for the same job (because you’re afraid of retribution)
  3. Tolerating abusive, bullying behavior (because you’re afraid of being labeled a “whiner”)
  4. Continuing to work somewhere where you’re not happy (because you’re afraid of the unknown)

Love actions:

  1. Allowing people to manage their own schedules (because you trust they want to do good work and will get their work done)
  2. Paying women the same as the men without being asked/coerced (because it’s simply the right thing to do)
  3. Enforcing the “No Asshole Rule” (because you love others)
  4. Moving toward what feels good or right in your career (because you also love yourself)

You can see this fear-versus-love dichotomy in the actions we take all day long – or you can look for it in the words we use. How do you talk about competitors, colleagues, customers, and other institutions?

Fear language aligns us against others:
Win, Beat, Dominate, Crush, Annihilate, “War on…”, Adversary, Knockout, Attack, Closed, Control, Kill, Defeat, Faction, Enemy

Love language aligns us with others:
Trust, Serve, Join, Collaborate, Share, Open, Transform, Build, Give-and-Take, Care, Seek, Generosity, Allow, Build, Partner, Connection

As we focus on operating from love, not from fear, we can create environments that help and support us. We may not know exactly how that is going to look – which makes us afraid. But we can have the faith that we are being presented with everything we need at the moment – which is living in love.

I believe we can use these perspectives, behaviors, and language to create the companies and social structures we all want to operate in. What do you think?


  1. Sloan Gorman July 17, 2014 Reply

    Fantastic! I especially love the “no asshole rule” at work. Kudos for using plain language and for addressing bullying at work.

  2. Author
    Michelle Meyer July 17, 2014 Reply

    Thanks Sloan–the reference to the “No Asshole Rule” is from a great book by Robert I. Sutton, called, “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t”. He does a great job of defining an asshole, telling you how to spot them, and explaining the impact on everyone of having them in your environment.

  3. Tina Mari Rucker August 24, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for putting this valuable information out there! It would be nice for all employers to read this enlightening topic.

    • Author
      Michelle Meyer August 25, 2014 Reply

      Thanks Tina Mari! It’s a start. I’m hoping I can carry this message to many audiences. I’m just beginning to explore how that is going to happen.

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