Sometimes, it’s hard to remember how to be human at work.
We’re programmed to avoid showing confusion, sadness, or frustration. We’re trained to ignore when we’re tired, hungry or scared.
We’ve become robotic.
And now we’re now worried real robots will take our jobs.
HA! Joke’s on us, eh?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve got to remember how to be human at work.
And not just for humanity, but for my own sanity.
Oh, and because it makes good business sense.
In order for people to want to work with you, whether as clients, customers, or even internal colleagues, they must trust you.
And in order to trust you, they first must like you.
Not Facebook Like like you, but really, really like you.
And what do we like? People who act like humans.
Who look up at our eyes instead of down into their phones.
Who make mistakes, apologize, and are perfectly imperfect.
Someone like you, when you’re at your best.
This is not a squishy Oprah Chopra kind of thing, but rather good solid business practice.
I think we can do it.
Let’s practice how to be human at work. Here are five ways to start.
How to Be Human at Work: Five Ways
1. Eat and drink
When I am in work-bot mode, I skip breakfast and often muddle through lunch if I’m working alone that day.
Then I’m crazy hungry at dinner and eat like I’ve never seen food before.
And then I feel like crap.
If only I’d stopped to remember I’m human, and remember that humans need to eat.
We also need to drink, and drink more than the caffeinated and/or carbonated beverages that have become our office staples.
Want to double your humanity quotient?
Invite another human being to eat or drink with you.
Even the spontaneous “do you want to have lunch with me?” or “can I refill your water bottle?” can go a long way.
Let me pause here and go refill mine. You too. I’ll wait.
2. Be proud of your successes
I am so fortunate to work with many talented high achievers. They have a lot to be proud of.
And they’re often embarrassed to admit it.
Or worse, they’ve been programmed not to admit it.
“Just doing my job,” they say.
Or “Oh, it wasn’t that big of a thing,” they hedge.
Part of being a human is to share and be happy with what’s going well. Plus, our neurons dance in our brains when they get more encouragement, compliments, kudos.
Why wait for others to allow you to be proud? Be a real human and tell us your story.
You might worry that this looks like bragging. Maybe it is.
But you can learn to brag so that others don’t gag. Watch my short video here to learn how.
Fellow humans will love your story. Don’t cheat them by staying quiet.
3. Go to the bathroom
Think you don’t have time? Remember that a bathroom stop also gives us the built-in excuse to stop talking, breathe, and even relax for a second.
That’s a smart strategy to employ so you can be ready for whatever’s happening next on your agenda.
And I’ve often wondered if that’s exactly why our creator made our bodies to need regular breaks. After all, why not create a constantly circulating machine? Wouldn’t that have made more sense?
So your bathroom break not only as a bio stop, but an investment in your continued energy and brainpower.
(And please, leave your devices at your desk. There’s enough poop in our email stream already.)
Go ahead. We’ll wait.
4. Give empathy
This may be “how to be a human 2.0,” but I think you can handle it.
When my coaching clients express their frustration and even anger with their leader’s decisions or colleague’s actions, here’s the strategy I recommend:
Replace your frustration with empathy.
In other words, when you’re feeling the frustration (“Why would they make such a stupid move?”), take that thought and set it aside.
Exchange it in your mind with a human thought containing empathy and understanding—something that might also answer the question “What else could be going on here?”
An empathetic reaction might be:
- “Wow–maybe she isn’t fully aware of the impact that decision will have on the business.”
- “To say something that hurtful, he must be feeling really scared and alone. I feel sorry for him.”
- “I feel fortunate that I don’t have to operate in the same way she is.”
Empathy is a a magic way to suddenly remember that they–and you–are both human, prone to brilliance and brainlessness.
5. Give you
Maybe one of the most human things we can do is to give of ourselves, even at work.
Your head smarts. Your gut instinct. Your heart’s courage.
Who might need you in your workplace right now? Maybe they need your encouragement. Your counsel. Your hands on a project. Your voice in their corner.
And they might need something from your superpower space. That’d be great.
Because when we’re bringing our superpowers to work, we’re the most human of all.