The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. When I first heard that, it boggled my mind. How can that be, I wondered?
But then I understood: Love and hate are both about vigorous emotion. Passion. You can passionately love something. And you can passionately hate something. Those two things are about intense emotion. That's the same thing.
What about when you have no feelings for something at all? When you just don't care about something or have no interest in being bothered by it? Yeah, apathy is the opposite of caring.
The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference.
Last evening, at our Book Talk, we had a thoughtful and invigorating conversation about some of the Key Concepts conveyed in the book we're reading, The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety. One such concept is, "Being ignored is often as painful as being rejected." This reminds me of one of the painful outcomes of being on the playground. Not skinning my knee or being bopped in the face with a dodge ball, but being ignored. Not chosen.
It got me thinking about the ways we can be ignored at work. We're ignored when people don't talk to us. That is, I guess, the most obvious example.
We're ignored when we're not invited to participate in activities. We're ignored if we're not included in projects. We're ignored when our efforts go unrecognized. We're ignored when our contributions are attributed (or stolen) by someone else.
We're ignored when the culture ("the way we do things around here") doesn't support us. We're ignored when the policies don't work for us -- or when abiding by the rules makes life difficult for us. We're ignored when our company's benefits are meaningless to us.
As leaders and managers, we need to look around at our people and see who we may be ignoring. The most progressive employers among us profess to care about our people -- to "love" our people. But do we? Do we really?
If we're actually ignoring them, we might as well be rejecting them. The experience is just as painful.
Let's do better. And let's quit blaming the people.