In the spirit of the International Year of Peace and Trust, we would like to share with you a tool that has brought connection, respect and a lot of pleasant workplace conversations to Montville Coffee.
We enjoy framing team meetings, particularly a decision-making situation, with a ‘virtues pick’. This process asks willing contributors to pick from a deck of cards published by The Virtues Project. Each card reflects one of 52 virtues that are both strengths and areas of growth in all of us. Afterwards, we take turns reflecting on the card’s virtue and how it connects to the current work situation and sometimes previous life experiences.
We do this to expand our thoughts, words, and vision beyond what often seems all-encompassing in the day-to-day world of running a business. We also WANT to knock down barriers that come with hierarchical structures and allow our leaders moments to be vulnerable. With this shared ‘literacy’ based on common principles, we find unifying threads that strengthen our conversations and connections. This process can be revealing, vulnerable, thought-provoking and often full of laughs as we recall experiences and share our feelings and opinions on various topics. I usually leave these discussions feeling touched and connected to my colleagues.
The Virtues Project is a global grassroots initiative that began in the early 90s to inspire the practice of virtues. It started with the idea that all children are born with virtues in potential, and parents and educators can awaken these character gifts. The idea evolved into further strategies for bringing virtues to life. The United Nations honoured the project during the International Year of the Family as a “model global program for all cultures”.
Founders, Linda Kavelin Popov, psychotherapist, Dan Popov, clinical pediatric psychologist, and John Kavelin, artist, realised that virtues are the common thread that connects all humanity. We have indeed found this at Montville Coffee as we aim to navigate tricky conversations and decisions with respect and empathy rather than blame or shame.
Workplace environments can be hard work, and it takes time and willingness to make them a safe place. We find this tool, although just part of the picture, is helpful.