10 Ways Showing Compassion Can Lead to More Success at Work

“The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one. ”

― Actress Goldie Hawn

Compassion is an emotion felt within ourselves and as a result, a desire to ease the pain and suffering of those around us is ignited. This interpersonal process involves the ability to notice, feel, or perceive another person’s pain and to be with or take action to help alleviate that person’s suffering.

In companies, suffering can stem from two different sources: organizational triggers like job loss, downsizing, mergers and heavy workloads, or personal challenges in an individual’s home life such as relationship difficulties, children’s needs, divorce, loss of loved ones and money problems.

Either way, suffering is suffering… I always say to my clients, each person’s suffering is as big to them as another person’s. It is important to have empathy when you come into the presence of another. Feel it, immerse in it, but do not try to take it away… that is taking away their dignity and it becomes co-dependent.

So how do we cultivate compassion, especially in an organization? There are many different ways to show empathy for others; however it MUST come from the heart. If we can meet suffering with loving-care and kindness, compassion will naturally arise.Here are some ways showing compassion at work, and in life, can lead to more happiness and success:

  1. Start with Self-Compassion In order to truly have compassion for others you must first have it for yourself. In other words, you can’t give what you don’t have. Practice self-care, gratitude and mindfulness.
  1. Invite Authenticity and Make it Personal Be real, and make it safe for people to be themselves. Really get to really know others— who they are, what’s important to them, their families and what they like to do when they are not working. Reveal your own emotions and be vulnerable because it creates connection, and gives other people permission to do the same.
  1. Model Compassionate Leadership The best leaders lead from the heart, and know how to inspire others through kindness, respect, flexibility, trust, support and empowerment. Take responsibility for your personal impact. Be an advocate for others and show how much you care by encouraging a collaborative environment. You will create loyalty, job satisfaction and ultimately more success.
  1. Offer Kindness Kindness is universal and has a huge impact. Even the smallest action such as a smile or thoughtful note can break down barriers and create connection. Plus, it’s good karma.
  1. Show Respect Let others be who they are. Honor someone’s privacy. Don’t gossip— it’s their story to tell, not yours. Allow others to have their joy and pain, successes and failures.
  1. Encourage Conscious Communication Listen actively. Make eye contact, listen without interrupting, and acknowledge what the other person is saying to you. Self-manage by being aware of your own thoughts, words and actions and choose your own words with mindful intent and integrity.
  1. Engage Empathy Try to understand and accept the perspective of the other person, and put yourself in their shoes. “Find them right.” Show genuine concern yet allow them to have their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and above all, dignity. Do not try to take their pain away from them.
  1. Be of Service Be helpful, generous, offer guidance and pitch in when needed. Lend a hand to someone who is under stress, stuck or on a deadline. Give the proper credit and remember that you are striving to meet the same goals and outcomes. Be encouraging and positive, not critical or undermining. And remember, true generosity expects nothing in return.
  1. Give Positive Feedback Catch others doing it right. Acknowledge others people’s strengths, attributes and contributions and tell them. People need recognition and encouragement.
  1. Recognize Our Common Humanity Find connection with others in the experience of life rather than being alienated by our suffering.

As the Dalai Lama XIV wrote in his book, The Art of Happiness, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” I invite you to live your life from your heart. Bring it to work. Be kind, be loving, be real, be compassionate and be happy.
Meet Jennifer: Life Coach, Inspirational Speaker and Author Jennifer M. Blair is founder of Excavive™ Coaching and Consulting, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Her work focuses on empowering people to pursue their passions, increase their self-confidence, communicate powerfully and build the kind of lives they want to live. If you love these Blog posts, many have been adapted from her first book, The True You: Tools to Excavate, Explore and Evolve, published in 2011.