Communication and Compassion

August 15, 2016 ·

In last month’s blog, we talked about how being “professional” at work doesn’t mean that we can’t also show compassion. Often times, at our place of employment, we try to strip all emotion from our work. But humans are full of emotion all the time, so disciplining ourselves to be less compassionate and loving serves to keep us isolated in a place we spend so much of our lives.

Yes, it can be difficult to be understanding and show compassion to our colleagues. We spend at least 25% of our time during any given week with a large group of people that we didn’t choose and with whom we have to work closely. There are people that we like more than others—sometimes making true friends—but there are also people that are tough to get along with, making it hard to meet deadlines and achieve goals.

This is where professional compassion can be most useful—it opens up channels of communication with our colleagues and helps us to understand where they are coming from. Susan Jeffers wrote in Dare to Connect, “What creates conflict are the differing needs, expectations, perceptions and experiences of everyone involved.” By being in contact with our emotions, by not being afraid to try to empathize with all of our colleagues, we can be a better co-worker and a more productive employee.

The first step towards achieving understanding is to know that we don’t know, and can’t know in many cases, what other people are feeling or thinking.

“In our effort to convert conflict into discovery, expansion, and cooperation, it really helps to see ourselves as beings with very limited vision. By definition, we can see the world through our own eyes...and no one else's. That's pretty limited! Conflict simply signifies that those with whom we have disagreements see with different eyes.”

Trying to at least acknowledge that your colleagues have individual lives, individual fears and goals, will go a long way in helping to understand where they are coming from. The next step is to really listen.

“Understand we don't have to end up agreeing with each other.  But in the process, we learn what the world looks like, from different points of view. So LISTEN AND LEARN is the key to using conflict as discovery. The more we hear and the more we see, the more we allow into our internal computer, and the more creative we become—and the more empathy we have for other positions, thus allowing connection to occur.”

Each of these steps you can undertake on your own to improve both your work experience and that of your colleagues. Many times, those colleagues you already find recalcitrant will not be affected by your effort to understand and listen. If you are reaching out with love and compassion and they can’t see it, it is a poor reflection on them, not on you. By reaching out to everyone with the same level of empathy, you are creating a workspace that is supportive and productive for those around you and, more importantly, yourself. 

Tags: Corporate Training · Personal Development

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