Photo by Helena Lopes

Can You Say That?

“I love you,” the battalion operations officer often said to me when we ended conversations on the phone.

The first time he said it, I instinctively responded by saying, “love you too!”

And then I followed up with, “wait, did you mean to say that?”

“Sure did. Because I love you!” the major responded.

From that moment forward, it became somewhat of a ritual between us — if he didn’t say, “I love you,” at the end of our conversation, then I made a point to say it.

I’ve actually always been a “tell your friends and family you love them as often as you can” kind of guy. I just didn’t know you could bring those good vibes to work!

It could go wrong, obviously. There is a widespread problem with sexual harassment in the Army, and telling your peers, seniors, and subordinates that you love them could be inappropriate.

But if done in the right way and with the right people, it can affirm that we see each other on a deeper level.

It can affirm that we care about more than each others’ work output. It can affirm that we care about each others’ humanity.

My relationship with the good major was solid. He cared a lot about the junior officers in the battalion and spent a lot of time getting to know us personally and professionally. When he dropped the L bomb, it didn’t feel uncomfortable or contrived.

It felt like he genuinely wanted good things to happen for me.

If you want to give it a shot — and I recommend you do if it’s your thing — just be sure that the audience will be receptive.

We could all use a little more love these days. And to you, dear reader, I say: I love you!



“To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”

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