Is there room in your business day for compassion? If you're like many people in business, it's probably way down on your list of "to do's" at work. But there is increasing evidence that says cultivating a compassionate attitude gives you a clear Leadership advantage.
In our quest for better business, we can sometimes feel like it's better to switch off our softer emotions to GET MORE DONE. There are, however, many good reasons to take a little more time, for compassion at work.
Compassion is having the ability to empathise with another's suffering, with the desire to assist or alleviate their pain in some way. It comes naturally to many of us but is often left outside of the workplace. At work we value drive, determination and toughness more. If we do experience a moment of compassion for a suffering colleague, we might feel too restricted by office politics to act on it. But there are very sound reasons why cultivating more compassion can make for a better working environment, for everyone.
Research by the Greater Good Science Centre shows that when we notice suffering in another person that we display deep neurological and biological responses. We experience a slow-down of our heart rate and increase in the “bonding hormone” oxytocin. Parts of the brain linked to empathy, caregiving and feelings of pleasure become activated. As a result, we want to approach and care for those in need. There are good reasons why this response is so natural for us, going all the way back to our tribal roots. In tribal times, the survival of as many individuals as possible was necessary for the tribe to continue to flourish. But what about its' place in the modern tribes of work? Is it necessary?
If you want your Team to flourish, then YES.
Those who feel noticed listened to and cared for at work are more likely to experience positive emotion. This leads to increased co-operation, better bonds with co-workers and a better experience for your customers. It's not about getting all "emotional" at work, or encouraging your Team to sit around talking about their problems forever! But it IS about knowing that your perceived value and strength as a Leader will INCREASE if you reach out to those who are hurting. And the flow-on positive effects for that person will be considerable and long-lasting.
It doesn't need to be grand, organised or showy. In fact, compassion is best in the quiet safety of a shared coffee chat outside the office or a discussion in a private office space. There is no magic formula or script to follow. Just ask if someone is OK, listen with empathy and then act to assist in some small way. It can be enough to make a real difference. Often, just having someone to talk to can often be enough to ease someone's pain! But whether the pain is work-related stress, or family, marriage, kids, health or other outside troubles, there's one thing I know for sure. It will be affecting them at work.
That's more than enough reason for you to give yourself permission to become a more compassionate Leader, starting today.
I'd love to hear from you - please let me know about a time when compassion has made a world of difference to you in at work! Let's share our success. Let's create a groundswell of support for more compassionate working environments 🙂