4 Ways to Show Compassion in the Workplace

Social media may have you think that everyone has Pinterest-perfect homes and goes on Instagram-worthy vacations. However, we know that’s not true. Those are just a few well-curated snippets from someone’s life. That is not their whole life. The truth is everyone faces different kinds of challenges, whether they be mental, financial, emotional, or physical. Some share their issues, while others prefer to keep it to themselves.

While no one has a magic wand to make all the pain and suffering in the world go away, you can make a difference. For starters, you can be more compassionate with anyone you meet. The nanny, the barista, the elevator operator, or even the celebrity you see online. Don’t jump to conclusions and make assumptions. This is even more important for people you meet regularly like family, friends, and coworkers. You may not bump into the same server at the restaurant, but you will see your manager nearly every day.

Here are four ways to infuse compassion into your speech, thoughts, and actions so you can do your part in making your surroundings better.

1. Take the Initiative

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If your workplace doesn’t have someone who orders flowers when a coworkers’ family member passes away, offer to help. Ask the Human Resources department or your manager to give you a budget to send a nice bouquet to employees who may be grieving. This can also work when coworkers are celebrating a wedding or new baby. It is a small gesture that shows their company is thinking about them. You can ask coworkers for suggestions, so it feels like a collaborative effort.

If a colleague is ill, you could also send them get well soon gifts instead of, or in addition to, flowers. Some hearty soup and bread can be the comfort food they are craving as they recover. They will always remember this kindness when they come back to work. It can help with retention and building trust. People often remember those who were there for them when they were struggling.

2. Consider Crowdfunding

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A bouquet of flowers is a great gesture, but it doesn’t help pay bills. If your coworker has recently been in an accident or going through a lengthy medical treatment, get their permission to set up a crowdfunding page. You could keep it anonymous to protect their privacy. But if they are OK with it, adding details and photos does boost credibility. Share the link on your social media accounts and add a brief note how you know the person. Every little amount can add up to make a neat sum that can help your coworker with the bills that insurance might not cover.

This can also be a good idea if a coworker is struggling to raise funds for loved ones in another part of the world. They may be living through a war, or be affected by an earthquake or flood. This can make you more aware of what is going on around the world. This is the time to amplify the “we are global citizens” tagline on your company website. Your small contribution may multiply in some other currencies and help provide them with the items they need most in such tragic times.

3. Accommodate Special Needs

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You can also show compassion in the workplace by making it more comfortable for people with special needs. Some things like handicapped-accessible bathrooms and ramps may be required by law. But there can be other things you could implement voluntarily. You could switch on closed captioning on video conferencing so anyone with hearing issues can understand all the participants.

If several employees have young children, consider having an on-site day care or playground equipment. Parents would love to be able to bring their kids to work and go check in on them during lunch. It might encourage more people to return to work and not worry about any daycare negligence. Nursing mothers could also use this facility and not feel that guilty leaving their infant at another daycare.

4. Provide Compassionate Feedback

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Whether you’re in charge of annual evaluations or just giving feedback on a presentation, be compassionate. Of course, employees have to meet and exceed standards. However, if someone is going through a divorce, or has recently lost a parent, try to be a little more empathetic.

That doesn’t mean work productivity suffers or that clients get to review sub-par advertising campaigns. Give feedback by starting with the positives. Try to provide constructive ways to improve. Don’t just start on a path of criticism in a condescending tone. You wouldn’t want your employees to question their self-worth or role in the organization.

Encouraging employees to express if they faced any obstacles in completing the task instead of just asking them why it was not done. Perhaps team members from another department did not provide the articles on time, so the website could not be updated. Encourage them to be honest and transparent, and listen to the full story before making assumptions.

Don’t Forget Self Compassion

Just like charity begins at home, so does compassion. You cannot go around helping everyone else out when you don’t feel good about yourself. Whether its daily affirmations or some kind of self-care, always remember not to forget about yourself. You can’t convince a coworker to go for therapy or book a relaxing facial if you’re overworked and frazzled yourself. Your actions need to show you believe in the benefits of the ideas you’re suggesting. When the workplace is filled with compassion, employees feel heard and valued, and overall morale will benefit.

Jeffery D. Silvers
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