Despite the fact that I’ve worked at Sounds True for more than five years now, I am continually awed by the depth of connection and adoration that my fellow employees and I have for one another. I’m not talking about the standard workplace relationships that we’ve all experienced at one time or another—these aren’t your average water cooler discussions, folks. I’m talking about a genuine (and, in my experience, unparalleled) level of care, compassion, and investment that we continually take in one another’s wellbeing and in paying attention to our feelings.
If I’m honest, after working for other organizations—particularly in corporate America—this modus operandi can take some getting used to. I distinctly recall my first team meeting here at Sounds True, which started with a check-in. Check-ins are an opportunity for each person in the meeting to take a moment to express how they’re doing. I incorrectly assumed that each check-in would be project or deadline related—instead people were talking about the challenges of raising a teenager, caring for a sick parent, their impending divorce, or simply feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Imagine my surprise!
You may be asking what these kinds of check-ins have to do with work…the answer is absolutely everything. This simple act of sharing not only encourages us to really show up and to authentically express ourselves, it goes a long way in helping us understand why someone may take a bit longer to respond one day, why they may react a certain way, or why their level of engagement may vary—and, instead of feeling offended or taking that behavior personally, we’re able to respond with compassion and empathy. While it may seem the contrary, this honest expression actually makes space for the human experience and ultimately leads to a more productive and cohesive work environment.
As Fred Kofman, Sounds True’s author of Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values says, “Culture is as essential a part of the organization’s infrastructure as its technology; perhaps it is even more essential.” I have no doubt that one of the most essential aspects of Trueski culture is our ability to feel and to truly empathize with one another. We mourn the passing of parents and children and beloved canine/feline companions. We console through heartache and divorce. We unabashedly ooh and aah in celebration of babies. We cheer for marriages and anniversaries and love. We make mistakes and ask for forgiveness. We express appreciation and admiration. We express frustration and exasperation. We dance at company parties. We drink scotch in honor of triumphs and defeats. We show up and love the ones we’re with…and, boy, are we lucky to be with them.