Let’s face it: we, as a society, are incredibly busy. There are so many people, tasks, and brands that are competing for our attention, even if it’s wedged into just a few seconds. We are constantly being bombarded by messages from the moment we wake up until we lay our heads back down on the pillow to sleep.
It’s exhausting, and also leaves very little room for something that all humans crave: compassion.
When we’re focused only on the things we need to accomplish and doing what others tell us we need to, it often places the focal point inward. And while it’s necessary to be in touch with our own needs, it’s important to think about how we can show up for others in a thoughtful way on a daily basis. Humans are social creatures, after all.
Today, we’ll be talking about showing compassion, even when it feels like there isn’t any time for it. I’ll give you some tips for being more compassionate in your daily life, and we’ll talk about what compassion looks like in the office and, more specifically, in healthcare.
What is Compassion?
Compassion can be many things, but Merriam-Webster’s definition of compassion is a “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”
Compassion means trying to understand where someone is coming from, even if you can’t fully relate to their situation. It means wanting to be there for another person and taking active steps to do so.
But what does this look like in practice? That’s what we’ll be exploring in depth.
Why We Need Compassion
Compassion is important for our daily lives, specifically for our well-being. However, there are several benefits that go along with compassion in the workplace.
Employees who show compassion are more engaged in the office, and therefore may be more productive.
Not to mention, the gift of giving is the gift of receiving, in this case. Helping or showing compassion to someone else makes us feel good within ourselves.
Compassion deepens our relationships, which are vital for our mental well-being, but in some cases, our physical health as well.
Showing Compassion at Work
When we’re in an office or working with team members (even if that means remotely), it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day schedule of reaching goals, setting expectations, and getting things done. This may be the mark of an incredibly efficient workplace, but one that could very well be lacking in empathy.
Are you able to take the time to talk to your team to see where they’re at? Try opening up to them in a way you haven’t before. Start a conversation that shows your human side and encourages them to reciprocate.
1. Take an Interest in Their Personal Life
If it’s appropriate, ask others about what they’re interested in outside of the office. Get to know a little bit more about them beyond what you’ve learned about their job title and the work that they do.
Not only will this help you create a healthy connection with someone you work with, it will also help give you a clearer picture of the person. You’ll be more apt to see disagreements and ideas from their perspective, as long as your mindset remains open.
2. Abandon Your People-Pleasing Tendencies
While it’s important to want to make others feel important and valued, people-pleasing can actually get in the way of compassion. This is because people-pleasing actually goes back to someone wanting others to like them; it places the focus off of the other person and back onto yourself.
When getting to know someone and trying to show them compassion, make sure you’re not doing so for the sole purpose of getting that person’s favorable opinion of you.
3. Offer Praise Liberally and Publicly
This tip is especially important if you’re trying to be a more compassionate leader, but it doesn’t just apply to bosses and managers.
One of the best ways to boost someone up in the workplace is to recognize when they do something well and make sure to do so in front of others. This helps the other person feel more valued and safe in the office. They feel like what they do makes a difference, and it can also help boost their confidence.
Compassion in Healthcare
All work environments should involve compassion, but one industry in which it’s absolutely essential is healthcare. Showing care and compassion to all patients is a daily duty of a healthcare professional, but alongside this should be showing empathy to colleagues and those are around us.
It can be difficult to feel compassion when working in such a high-stress environment, but here are a few ways that healthcare professionals can be more mindful in their daily practices:
4. Take a Step Back to Think About the Human
Working in healthcare means dealing with difficult people. While it can be easy to not want to feel compassion when someone else isn’t being compassionate toward you, it’s important to always think about what that person has gone through. They could be stressed and scared.
If they’re a patient, they probably feel incredibly vulnerable. More than likely, they aren’t lashing out because they don’t value you as a person. It’s probably because they feel insecure.
Try to stay calm, and be understanding of the situation. You never know what the other person may have gone through.
5. Address Your Biases
As a healthcare professional, you have the opportunity to work with a variety of people from different backgrounds. We all have our own unique worldviews that reflect on the way we believe people should act and how situations should unfold.
The fact of the matter is that these worldviews, while important for creating our personal identities, can also hinder our ability to show compassion to others if we let them. If you find yourself coming to terms with your own biases and preconceptions, dig deep and think about why you hold onto these. Take active steps toward letting them go, or at least not allowing them to hinder your work.
6. Acknowledge Team Work
You and your colleagues are what help make the care you provide exceptional. Take the time to recognize that. Show that you appreciate your team members by actively telling them and citing specific examples of when you were grateful for their work.
Along these same lines, take the time to attentively listen to team members when they come to you with questions and concerns. Show them that you value their hard work and effort to learn more. Most importantly, speak kindly with open facial expressions and simple gestures, if you’re able. This will help you better connect to your team members over time.
Being More Compassionate In Life
Whether you’re in the workplace, in the car, at home, or anywhere in between, there’s always room to practice compassion and expand your efforts to be a more empathetic person.
7. Get to Know Yourself
For some, compassion comes as easily as breathing. For others, it’s not quite as simple. Get to know your roadblocks for showing empathy and kindness. Do certain behaviors in others make you feel less apt to show compassion? Why is this? What do you value in a friend, partner, or team member?
Similarly, how can you show compassion to yourself? If you take the time to understand how you can be kinder and more patient internally, you may find you’re able to do the same with those around you.
8. Be Aware of Those Around You
It’s essential to think about your own needs, but take the time to look around. Do any of the people in your world seem to be struggling right now? Take a few moments to ask if they’re all right and if there’s anything you can do to help them.
On the other hand, is someone more upbeat than usual? Briefly celebrate with them in the most appropriate way. This could be as simple as offering congratulations or simply acknowledging that you’re glad they’re in a good mood.
The Big Picture
Sometimes, it feels as though we’re too stifled by our own day-to-day activities that we don’t recognize the need for compassion. That’s why it’s important to actively take time out of your day to show compassion and grow in your compassion journey.
Are you interested in more tips about how you can be more compassionate at work? Could your team benefit from compassion training? I work with professionals in order to improve workplace culture and foster more empathetic practices. Please get in touch to schedule a meeting.