THE BLOG

The Value of Being Humanistic in Business

10/07/2010 01:23 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

This blog was inspired by a group of individuals I recently met who run an arm of a large multinational corporate entity. I met this group at an off-site team build I was asked to facilitate. The 14 men and women hailed from various countries, each with varying personalities, and I suspect different agendas. I spent the first half of this four day event trying to understand each delegate's personality, their preferred learning style and their level of receptiveness as it relates to my approach to team building.

By the end of the fourth day, it became clear to me that the team and I had connected, some more than others, but overall I felt that everyone had made some form of connection with me. In addition, from where I was sitting, the team seemed to have become closer, and as one delegate said, the "atmosphere softened." And although this was not something I was formally requested to bring about, nor was it any part of my remit, everyone seemed comfortable with this outcome, including the team leader.

I was both inspired and moved by the way many of the team reacted to what some have described as my alternative approach to team building. Which reminds me, a while ago, a board director of a large insurance company told me that he described me to his team as being "a bit alternative." I suggested that I was "an" alternative, to which he smiled and nodded approvingly. Funny, how adding just one small word can significantly change how someone is perceived.

As I write this blog, I'm trying to find a universal message that I'd like to think will resonate with a large group of individuals, not just businesspeople. One thing that comes to mind is that toward the end of the off-site event, there was more than a hint of the feeling that we are all in this together, that warmed my heart in unexpected ways. When we give ourselves permission to shed the 'corporate cloak,' the false-self, and share something personal about ourselves, we are seen for the person we truly are. This creates a shift within us, and as if by osmosis, within others. It's as if we have unburdened ourselves of an invisible weight. A weight we were not aware of as such, because we've become so used to carrying it.

By becoming more real, we lift the mask and as one client said to me, during another workshop I was running, "You're talking about being more humanistic, Malcolm." In essence, being humanistic is a worthy endeavour and one to which I subscribe fully. The following quote by Abraham Maslow, one of the great humanists of the 20th century seems prescient, "The fact is that people are good, give people affection and security, and they will give affection and be secure in their feelings and their behaviour." As far as my recent off-site experience is concerned, it has further endorsed my belief that we are all in this together. And here's how each of us can encourage more of that feeling in our businesses and in our lives:

  • Use empathy as a way to engage and build rapport
  • Communicate from your heart, as well as your head
  • Trust your intuition it often knows more than you think
  • Learn how to 'let go'
  • Speak when you feel moved, and remain silent when you feel moved
  • Learning to say "No" enables our "Yes" to have more impact
  • Giving unconditionally is a gift to the giver
  • Spend time every day reflecting

Malcolm Levene is the co-author of "Ellie Hart Goes to Work" and "10 Steps to Fashion Freedom." To learn more, please visit www.one1.co.uk.