Pain Don’t Hurt

“Pain don’t hurt.” – If you know what movie quote that’s from, you and I are meant to be BFFs. For those of you not in the know, keep reading and I’ll drop you some hints.

As part of our Diversity and Inclusion Training Plan (B Corp certification process), we attended the Greenville Chamber of Commerce’s “Diversity and Inclusion Summit” for the second year in a row. The first year focused more on the outer shell of diversity, from skin color to gender. This year focused more on the inner workings of self-awareness, leadership roles and how your actions affect others on your team. We shut down our Greenville office for a full day of team bonding centered around learning how we can be better people, better leaders and better teammates.

After the summit, we surveyed the team and asked for their top takeaway from the training. What was most interesting is that the majority took away the same core concept of pain mentioned in the opening session by speaker, Dr. Steve Robbins.

When a person feels excluded, the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and right ventral prefrontal cortex are activated in the same way they are when a person experiences pain. Pain requires the brain to pay attention to it – and attention can only be in one place at a time. So an instance at work that causes you social pain literally makes you unable to efficiently do your job.

– Some BOF mate who attended summit and takes impeccable notes

Laymen’s terms? Emotional pain from being left out hurts you like the pain of a broken arm. That pain also keeps you from doing your best. Pain does, in fact, hurt. Swayze, right?

Here we are in 2018 and “collaboration” is the new buzzword. If someone doesn’t feel a part of your tribe or if they don’t feel safe, secure and welcomed, they can’t be wildly successful because they’re in pain. What’s worse? If they feel isolated, unloved, left out and rejected, you are pretty much breaking some emotional bones.

So, what can companies and organizations do? How do we cultivate an environment that limits the opportunity for any of us feel that kind of pain at work? For BOF, we are starting with knowledge. “Knowledge is power,” says our COO, Emily Townsend. (I think she stole this from some famous scholar or Playstation, but we’ll let her have it…) We are soaking up all we can on this subject through books, articles and internal discussions.

We are working on methods to combat exclusion, especially among different generations in the office. One of the simple ways we are doing this is by making sure everyone in a meeting has spoken. If not, we call on them individually to offer an opportunity to share their thoughts during the meeting. Everyone gets a chance to be heard, no matter what their age.

We are working on “collision opportunities,” where you grab a random lunch gift card from the pool, as well as a random colleague’s name – then you go to lunch together. This encourages a collision of space, conversation and time to get to know someone that might not be in your immediate daily work circle.

Now it’s your turn. We’d love to hear how you’re promoting inclusion in your workspace. Tell us how you’re making sure your teammate feels welcome at their work home.

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