Bringing Compassion to our Work

I spent a lot of my career in the business world working for someone as an employee. From the very beginning, I took great pride at being very professional. I was educated and programmed (yes, I said programmed), to always think and act like a "professional".

Photo Credit: Priya Saihgal Photo Credit: Priya Saihgal

This was programmed through employee orientations where expectations were set of what behavior was valued, through observing other successful individuals in the company, and through evaluations where one was ranked one to five based on the category of "Professionalism".

This was wonderful, as it was made clear early on what the expectation was of one's behavior.

This was not so wonderful, as somewhere along the line the term "professional" also meant to rarely act or speak with emotion. That being "professional" meant being detached, cool, and aloof.

Somewhere along the line, I started to bring my feelings for others into the work environment and my ratings on "Professional" suddenly kept getting lower on that one to five scale.

Cracking that shell, I found that being human in leadership is valued by those you lead. After all, aren't we all just human beings helping each other by being human?

"Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation." ~Henry Ward Beecher

Here are a few ways to bring more compassion into your work:

  • Assume others have the best intentions. They probably do and just don't know how to tell us.

  • Demonstrate that you feel deeply and care a lot. A great leader is able to show they care.

  • Never underestimate the power of listening and being present to another person. Sometimes, just being there matters more than you will ever know. Aren't there times when all you want to do is have someone to listen so you can hear yourself talk through a difficult time?

  • Have some compassionate stories ready to relay when you are talking to people. Let them see how you show compassion in your life.

  • Include in your company/department values that you value people as human beings, not just as employees.

  • Understand what makes others tick and what motivates them. When you know this you know how to be compassionate.

  • Be of service to others' needs. Don't know how to do this? Simply ask "How can I help you? How can I be of service?" After their look of surprise that someone is asking them these questions, you will be told.

"Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too." ~Frederick Buechner

1 comment


I so agree with you, Pat! Sadly, corporations are filled with managers who are more concerned about the work than the people. I can't even begin to tell you some of my stories. I love the two quotes you included, too. Beautiful, just beautiful. Thanks for sharing :0)
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