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Mindful : February 2016
February 2016 mindful 67 Choosing to open yourself up to fellow workers and care for their welfare is good for them, for you, and for your organization. Compassion Works Have you ever seen compassion listed as a required skill in a job description? Likely not, because most workplaces don’t consider compassion a skill—let alone a desired attribute of employees. What does it mean to be compas- sionate at work? It can be as simple as assuming others have good intentions even when a situation (for what- ever reason) doesn’t go as planned, rather than default- ing to blame or confrontation. Despite the many tensions and errors that often arise at work, most people don’t wake up actively planning to act like a jerk or make others uncomfortable. “For too many people, their workplace is an inter- ruption from their time off, a form of paid suffering,” says Jon Ramer, founder of Compassion Games, a global organization dedicated to creating compassionate thinking and compassionate action in ever yday life. “If more workplaces built their culture on a foundation of compassion, people would be more satisfied and dignified at work. They would see a connection between their deepest human values and the way they’re treating oth- ers—and are being treated— at work.” Getting business leaders to care about compassion can be difficult because, as Ramer explains, “measuring the impact of compassion and how it translates to the bottom line is a new concept, making it hard to justify resources to build this skill at work.” But without it, employees burn out, man- agers become fatigued, and customers can feel it in the quality of experience. What are some benefits of creating caring workplaces? “When businesses commit to developing compassion, they benefit by demonstrating a genuine concern about the culture in which their busi- ness operates. This impacts the quality of customer ser- vice as well as how employ- ees interact with each other and with vendors,” Ramer says. “Compassion can build camaraderie among staff and directly impact the loyalty and retention of employees as well as customers.” For many, compassion isn’t easy, especially at work. That’s because, as modern humans, we have created a work culture that gener- ally doesn’t support failure and humility. At work, we seek recognition in the form of “getting credit.” When, for whatever reason, we aren’t given credit, it has become a habit to blame others rather than practice self-compassion (through self-reflection, self-account- ability, and acceptance of our own imperfections). Being compassionate means being vulnerable, which means not being “per fect.” In a world often fixated on per fection and recognition, vulnerability can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment. But compassion is a wor th- while risk to take, and it’s started gaining workplace acceptance, supported by the works of Brene Brown, author of Darning Greatly, and Marshall Rosenberg, author of Non-Violent Communication. Compassion in the work- place is not unlike compas- sion in any other place. It star ts with a simple choice. A choice to be open to feel what others are feeling, or at the very least acknowl- edge that people don’t show up with the intention to be mean, difficult, or rude. It’s possible your colleagues are facing struggles: single parenting, health issues, divorce, deaths, disabilities, etc. We really don’t know another’s experience before we come together in our common workplace. So next time you’re at work and things don’t go your way, take a deep breath and assume your colleagues have positive intentions. ● Jae Ellard is the founder of Simple Intentions and author of a series of books on developing awareness in the workplace. Being kind starts with a simple choice: show up for others with the best you can bring. And that will connect you—and them—with deeply held values. practices at work