Unleash Your Organization’s SuperpowerAdd bookmark
What if I told you there was a superpower available that could help create a happier, healthier, more cooperative and productive work environment? What if I told you it was already present and available for you right now? Would you be interested in bringing that power on line in your organization? I hope so!
The superpower I’m talking about is compassion. Compassion is broadly defined as “the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.” That motivation to be helpful and make a difference is what I believe gives compassion its superpowers because when people act on their compassion really good things can happen.
Compassion is Good for Business
Compassion creates a safe environment for learning, collaboration and innovation by valuing input from all employees. When ideas and conversations are surrounded by the desire to help one another, there is an openness in the room that allows others to share thoughts and ideas that will move the company forward. Studies have shown that gifting compassion when working can establish an environment that reduces the fear of failure and improves resilience among employees. This leads to employees who are less stressed and more satisfied in their jobs, and a company with a lower turnover rate. All of these outcomes will impact people and the bottom line in very positive ways.
In psychology, there is a term referred to as the “norm of reciprocity,” which means if one person shows compassion to another, the other person will want to show compassion back. This term coincides with negative reactions as well—if someone reacts with a harsh, rude tone, it’s likely that the other person will become defensive and harsh, too. As a result, the harshly treated employee may then become more hesitant, reserved or less loyal than before. Simply showing compassion to others can create a chain reaction of compassion throughout your organization.
No Cape or Superhero Required
The really cool thing is, we don’t need a superhero to access this power for us. We only need to tap into it ourselves, and support others to do the same, to initiate the waves of positive impact that are set into motion by acts of compassion.
Darwin believed that sympathy, which is a component of compassion, is our strongest instinct, saying, “the most sympathetic members, would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.” An important question to consider is: how can we support people to translate their compassionate drive to be helpful into sustainable, meaningful actions? When compassion is expressed as excessive giving, givers can succumb to “compassion fatigue” as they become depleted by demands to give more and more. When people feel overwhelmed by requests to keep giving, they often opt to shut down their compassion, which doesn’t help anyone.
Cultivate Sustainable Compassion Through Coaching
I believe that coaching people to take a coaching approach to expressing their compassion can enable people to stay in a compassionate place longer, and more effectively. With coaching, people learn how to ignite insights for others that enable people to help themselves. Coaches tend to feel great when they are able to help others help themselves. The igniting of insight motivates people to take action on what they learned, creating another positive experience. And the expression of compassion inspires others to become more compassionate, positively impacting the organization’s culture by establishing a coaching culture. It’s a win-win-win! It doesn’t get much better than that!
Expressing compassion through “in the moment” coaching could look like:
- Listening to discern people’s fears and concerns that are often the drivers of limiting behaviors, and use coaching approaches to help others build their skills so they feel afraid empowered, rather than fearful.
- Asking questions to better understand why people choose to do the things they do, then use coaching approaches to help them achieve their goals.
- Helping people to notice when they get caught up in limiting stories they create about themselves and others, and coaching them to shift into a place of greater openness, curiosity and acceptance.
- Coaching people to believe in themselves and their own ability to make a meaningful difference.
- Encourage people to be compassionate towards themselves so they have the personal resources to express compassion to others.
Compassion is a superpower that, when practiced sustainably, brings out the best in all of us. That’s a superpower worth bringing on line any way that you can. No cape required, but feel free to wear one if it inspires you to be a superhero for compassion.
Photo courtesy: iStock / @Malchev