Everywhere I Go: People Want To Be Human

Renée Smith


Everywhere I go I meet people who just want to be human at work.

We want more from our work than just a paycheck. We want to be valued. We want to contribute. We want healthy relationships with our colleagues. We want to be ourselves. We want to find meaning. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask. But apparently, it’s hard to come by.

I’ve talked to so many of you from government, from corporations and small businesses, from many different fields and industries, from many different places and cultures around the world. The struggle is real and all too common.

But by being part of this community of people trying to make work more human, you have raised your hand for a more human workplace.

“Raising your hand” can mean you are saying at least three things:

1.     “I want a human workplace.”

2.     “I need help to make more work more human!”

3.     “I am willing to do what I can to create a human workplace.”

While it may take a bit of courage, raising your hand for the first two things is really not too difficult.

But it is harder to step up to the third, to say, “I am willing to do what I can to create a human workplace.” At first it can seem even harder to put that willingness into action.

When you are discouraged and uncertain, it is hard to own the things you can do right where you are in your imperfect, messy, perhaps fearful, wounded, and confused workplace.

But transformation doesn’t start when everything is rosy. If things were grand, then there’d be no need for transformation. Rather, transformation starts when things are a mess, when things are difficult. It starts with each of us, from the middle of that mess, taking responsibility for our presence, our choices, our influence, and our impact.

As author David Berry says in his post Choosing to Make It Better, it starts with “the three foot circle…that surrounds you everywhere you go.”

You can make your work more human today, right where you are. It starts with your willingness to create a more human workplace, and then it continues when willingness turns into influence by choosing to act with love.

That means choosing to be kind, to be positive, to assume good intent, to inquire, to extend grace, to forgive. Maybe it means choosing to invite others to a conversation over a break about compassion in the workplace. Maybe it means organizing practical support for a colleague with an illness. Maybe it means apologizing. Maybe it means stopping to say hello to someone who you’ve not taken time to know before and inviting them to coffee.

You can make your work more human by starting right where you are and then everywhere you go.

Tagged: a human workplace, culture, leadership, influence