What is compassion and why is it important in the workplace?

Compassion is the ability to listen, understand, acknowledge the emotional state of another person or oneself.

Emotions are tricky and messy and we all try to avoid that uncomfortable state at work. It is interesting that for every situation we encounter we will have an emotional reaction. The brain will analyze and assess for meaning and purpose however it is possible that once an emotional response is identified it may take a short cut before the brain fully understands what is happening.

So yes emotions can be messy and uncomfortable however it is what we deal with more than anything else. More times than not we are dealing with the emotions of others or ourselves in most situations.

The following steps are to guide you to the appropriate action while showing compassion to others or to yourself:

  1. Pay attention to your own emotions before responding. “What is going on, why does this trigger me?” Breathing (taking long breathes in and out) will help bring the emotions back to a state of understanding and appropriate action. Remember your brain uses 20% of the oxygen your body needs so without breathing you will not be able to find that self-awareness needed for any situation.
  2. Take some time to listen to what is really going on – an example, “So what I am hearing is that “xxxx” happened and you accidently “xxxxx”. Fully understand the events and the triggers.
  3. Validate and acknowledge what had happened – an example, “Well that is understandable given when “xxxx” happened and you did “xxxxx”, many would have done the same”.
  4. Finding the appropriate action to take. Perhaps the first three steps are all that is needed. If you are in a leadership role you may need to reflect on the appropriate action depending on the situation.

Without compassion moving forward is difficult because in order to move forward one must deal with being uncomfortable.  Being uncomfortable is an opportunity for you to be the best you can be!

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Albert Einstein