I had opportunity recently to get to know a couple of my colleagues at the hospital a bit better. Short, private conversations that helped me better understand situations—and the people involved. Those brief talks gave me a different perspective, helped me know just a bit more about their walks beyond the tiled hallways and key-coded entries. Time spent with connections that help turn acquaintance into knowing.
We catch too few of such moments, I think. Too much of worry and business, too little of the sharing that truly makes us care. The knowing of one another that stretches our awareness, the bits of understanding that help form a picture of what lies behind the scenes. We gain the meanings of unspoken words, understand the shadows that sometimes drift behind the eyes. And in that growing insight, realize—again—how the stronger bonds of friendship can give such rich meaning and strength to work relationships.
Perhaps some sorts of work do not depend so much on such deepening. Some might argue that factories and offices, bridge work and street cleaning, and a great host of other occupations and undertakings can move along quite nicely without any sort of deep caring for co-workers. Perhaps so… but I am skeptical.
Even if we care only about the work itself, the accomplishment of the owners’ ends, I doubt that a lifeless formality produces more and better work. And if we care about the workers at least as much as we care about their defined duties and designated outcomes, then a bit of thoughtful reflection informs us that their caring about one another matters.
The willingness to pitch in and help carry the load when another is sick or injured or dealing with “stuff at home” is much more prevalent and powerful when we care about the one who cannot be there and care about those affected by the work. The desire to do excellent work is stimulated and strengthened when we feel accepted, valued and cared for. Both process and product are improved when the people involved have come to know and love one another.
Such knowing and loving depend upon us having a mind to occasionally take a bit of time to listen to one another and see the other in ways that go beyond the doing of duty, the taking of tasks. A caring that goes beyond what is asked and attends to what is needed.