Recently, one of my favourite kind of leaders, the savvy kind, decided he wanted to invest in his team by doing my Difficult Conversations course. They talked about doing it together, over a series of weeks, with my support to help with integration and application.

As part of the preparation, I spoke with each member of the team individually. Overall, people thought it was useful to learn about how to have difficult conversations, especially topics they may avoid with each other because relations are so good together.

Yet, when it comes to the realities of day-to-day operations, it might not be on the top of everyone’s list to dive into the topic. People are particularly busy in a plugged-in age. We are never far from our emails, texts, and social media.

So, why bother, when so busy, to study and embody the art of the conversation, if it might only yield a few Eureka Moments?

This is an important question and at the heart of what we value as the dominant culture.

We value productivity and efficiency in the workplace and in our lives. The challenge is when we are in “get ‘er done” mode, we don’t really want to slow down. I don’t know about you, but when I think I have a priority task to do, the thing I resist the most is to stop and smell the flowers.

The expedient task will trump the relational, emotional connection.

We need to be present to connect. We need to be in our bodies to feel our feelings. Relationships, without an emotional connection, can function. It’s like living in a two-dimensional world: all the objects are functional enough, like a flat sheet of paper representing real life. I remember playing with paper dolls when I was a kid. It’s like that: somewhat functional, but not really real.

We are so plugged in that we need to consciously slow ourselves down to be present enough to be with one another.

What’s Really Real?

“When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” …The Velveteen Rabbit

What creates powerful emotional connections for us in relationships? What can we bank on, that is enough for us to overcome our resistance to slowing down and becoming more present?

Bottom line?


Love is not the word we always think of, especially in the workplace, and yet love always was, and will undoubtedly always be, the most potent elixir.

Most recently I was awe-struck by the power of love learned from Zebrafish.

Zebrafish have the ability to repair their own hearts after cardiac damage. How do they do it? Recent scientific studies reveal that zebrafish pull this off by flooding their bodies with twenty times the quantity of oxytocin – the love hormone.

As the study’s lead author said:

“Here we show that oxytocin, a neuropeptide also known as the love hormone, is capable of activating heart repair mechanisms in injured hearts in zebrafish and human cell cultures…”

The grandfather of oxytocin study in the workplace, neuro-economist Dr. Paul Zak, reports:

“Teams that caused oxytocin release in each other were more productive and innovative, and enjoyed the tasks they were doing more, than those whose brains did not connect to their teammates.”

So, we know love feels good and, if you are zebrafish, it’ll even regenerate your body parts. Love requires our attention. Love requires quiet contemplation and presence and affection.

Love requires study.

Studying how to do relationships may be a bit like studying how to breathe. It’s obvious how to breathe. Yet, there is a science and an art to breathing. Once we start to see the hidden architecture of breathing, it changes our relationship to breathing in profound and lasting ways.

Such it is with relationships. I’ve been studying how to love better for 30 years. I’m still such a novice. In fact, the more I learn, the more I know I don’t know.

Yet, what I know for sure, is that my studies have yielded tremendous treasures. I have indeed been blessed by love. And, in my sharing and learning, I have helped others love more.

Even one Eureka Moment is worth it all to me.

Because you, and me, and love, is worth it all.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr