Work is Personal: The Semantics

Semantics: The study of meaning in language and communications

I have this (long) sentence in my last post, Aloha Training? Make it all personal:

“Therefore —and this may be a stretch for many reading these words, forge on and stick with me! —the workplace and each business wishing to welcome the Aloha Spirit expression with open arms and customer-attuned expectations, must be made highly personal too, where there is no artificial ‘professional and not personal’ distinction.”

And I then added a link to this next part:

“The argument of personal or professional is often one of semantics: There can be personal choice and the freedom of self-expression in a workplace and business where our behavior remains highly professional: You can have both, so why get hung up on the either/or?”

In case you missed that link, and because I know the rest of the post is meaty already, I’d like to offer a bit more. The link goes to management coach extraordinaire Lisa Haneberg (I highly recommend her blog and her books) and a posting she wrote called,
Is Work Personal? Here’s the bit I think is most relevant to our ‘make Aloha personal’ discussion for the workplace:

Part of this [personal or otherwise] debate is semantics. If the word "personal" is hanging
you up, then forget the word. The question is, do your coworkers,
peers, and managers, EVER see the "living out loud" you, or just the
the curtailed you? Do you play full out at work? Are you connected to
the company, people, and the work? Do your actions demonstrate a love
for what you do and a need to take the initiative to do what you can to
optimize personal, team and company success? Are setbacks saddening and
successes very sweet?

Even when our work is personal, we will have good days and bad days.
But if work is not personal, we will never have STUPENDOUSLY AMAZING
days.

BTW, there are marketing implications to this as well. When work is
personal, the product or service is also more personal. We've heard a
lot about how the best companies are forming deeper connections with
their customers by connecting them to the business. Presentations with
features and benefits become more provocative, then the provocative
communication becomes evocative conversation.

Personal means individual connection, identification, meaning, and
importance. When things are personal, they can be a bit more messy and
we can avoid this by remaining just a bit aloof.

The word I hear most from people, when associating it with the Aloha they want (when both giving and receiving it) is GENUINE. Aloha cannot be scripted or faked: It has to come from spirit, heart and soul — Hawaiians would say from the na‘au, the gut — or it just doesn’t seem to be there. It is what Lisa calls, "living out loud" and "playing full out"— a great way to express it. Are you in every expression you make, every phrase you communicate, or not?

Her entire post is quite good, for she explains the personal versus work balance semantics as well, another rabbit trail we can pointlessly wander down at times:

Bottom line: We should strive to make work as personal as possible.

The work itself does not matter, it is who we are being when we come to work… Choosing to make work personal does not make one a workaholic. Working more is not an indication of the degree work is personal, and people who work long hours can be just as disconnected from their work as a clock watcher…

For me there’s the simple fact that work consumes a lot of our time and
energy, and it will ebb in and out of our personal lives whether we
like it or not, so why not make work Aloha-genuine too? Work also consumes much of our physical, spiritual, intellectual and emotional capacity.

Thus managers in particular must understand, and accept responsibility
for this certainty
: Being the cause of someone’s great (or rotten) day
at work is highly likely to go home with them, affecting their families, their communities, their semantics-free personal in everything else. Conversely, managers can create organizational cultures where genuine Aloha thrives and flourishes.

Here is another view, from the employee standpoint:

Work had better be personal! I agree that we all should fine a job
that align with our personal values, but I also think that people who
don’t make work personal are automatically making their job a bit of a
farce. The people I work with depend on me and I on them. I make an
effort to get to know them and they me. I take work seriously because,
whether we like it or not, our work defines us as people. It has been
said many times, it is not what we say, but what we do.

In short, our work is a major part of our lives, so my humble advice
is to work for something or someone you love and agrees with your
values and make it as personal as possible, because that is the only
way we are really giving our whole effort.

If you don’t think work is personal, then you hate your job. The
solution is not to make work more or less personal, it is to find a
jobe that is meaningful to you so that you want it to be very personal.
~ Guero Chimera