Compassion at work
Experts reveal that by cultivating compassion, our health and happiness improves. But what is compassion and is it something we can learn?
When you think of the word ‘compassion’, it is often linked to kindness, but it can encompass many things from empathy and understanding to courage. Another common misconception is that ‘compassion’ is a weakness of some kind. Far from it, understanding ourselves and others is the key to unlocking a happy life – at work and at home.
Founder of Compassion Focused Therapy, Professor Paul Gilbert from the University of Derby in the UK explains it well in a blog of his on the Huffington Post … “we are only one possible version of ourselves as a result of our social upbringing and contexts. It takes courage to be aware that we are biological beings, built by genes we never chose; pushed and pulled by motives and emotions that are in-built; socially shaped by environments we simply found ourselves in. This is the basis of compassionate wisdom.”
While we can’t help the way we are, as a lot of it is shaped by people, places and circumstances around us or beyond our control, we can choose to understand ourselves better. In fact, it is our responsibility to understand our own brain and personality and learn how to build the best, supportive environments to nurture ourselves and as a result, those around us.
This can often be tested by external forces, but compassion is a strength and not a weakness or an indulgence and it is something important to come to grips with, especially in the workplace.
Let’s take a look at how compassion can change a workforce for the better… If you find yourself being unnecessarily harsh about your own ability at work or constantly critical of your colleagues, or if you default to negative comments or work in a work environment filled with conflict or tension, chances are you can better understand and apply compassion. This means that work is more effective and staff wellbeing improves.
Now you know WHY compassion at work is important, but how can you show it? Here’s 5 tips …
- If you see a colleague struggling with a work project or hitting a tight deadline, offer your assistance, even if this means making them a drink!
- Cultivate a creative environment by meeting to share ideas and visions and actively inspire and motivate each other
- Team building helps build communication among colleagues. Get to know the people you work with and connect with them. Remember staff birthdays or ask colleagues how their weekend was or what their holiday plans are. This helps everyone at work feel valued.
- Boost staff morale by recognising the achievements and strengths of individual members of staff and celebrate these (usually with meaningful praise).
- Encourage others in the workplace to communicate openly – using feedback and open dialogue, and exercise this yourself on a daily basis. Challenge things you see as unfair, in an open and mature dialogue and express feelings and thoughts.