Do you use the “s” word at work?

Oprah Quote

I participated in a LinkedIn discussion last week, which is a new experience for me. I was drawn in by the title of the post: “Spiritual Ideas in Business: difficult and strategic,” which was written by a fellow member of the Conscious Capitalism group. Because I have avoided the use of the word, “spiritual” (the “s” word) in business due to the charge it carries for many people, I was curious to hear what others had to say on the subject.

The author, Joe Kittel, posed the question: “Why is it so hard to talk directly, clearly and boldly about practical spirituality in the world of business?” His answer to that question begins:

“Most business relationships fail, and they fail mostly due to failure in relationship.
And …
Practical spirituality is about the deepening of relationship; it is about making relationships better.
If we cannot talk about spirituality, we cannot apply these ideas to improve business relationships.”

While I have centered LM Studio’s core mission on the very essence of “s,” I can see both sides of the question I posed in the title above. I truly believe that running a business based on the same principals by which we live every other part of our lives can bring a unification and purity of purpose, putting everyone involved in the proverbial “flow.” There is no “work me” and “real me”–they are one and the same. There is no separate set of rules in business that make it OK to lie, cheat or manipulate to the detriment of others when you wouldn’t think to do that to someone in your personal life.

To actually use the “s” word with clients or prospects, though, is another story. My experience and observations point to a very clear dividing line that has been drawn between individual emotional and spiritual life and business practices. I have left the word out of my work vocabulary because I thought it might possibly alienate someone. Spirituality is often confused with the “r” word, religion, which we know is a hot-button for many. It may carry the connotation of “woo-woo,” that left-of-center, out-there, “she’s weird,” kind of meaning. Following this line of thinking might lead people to extrapolate that I am “flaky,” which could translate to “unreliable” or “ungrounded.”

So, my approach to broaching any “spiritual” ideas in business has been to simply not label that way. Instead I turn to other words like “connection” and even “love.”

Here are some queries to ponder:

  • Is my shying away from using the “s” word inhibiting the word becoming more acceptable in the mainstream?
  • Would the use of the word attract the very “tribe” of change-makers I seek?
  • Are those for whom the word is off-putting be people with whom I would wish to connect?
  • Do we need to ease people into the concepts of spirituality in business in order to keep minds open? If we are too much “in the face” of those for whom the idea is difficult, do we lose the opportunity to help them see a different way? Isn’t the goal to preach beyond the choir?

Your thoughts?

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