The word compassion originated from the Latin word “compati” which translates to ‘suffer with’. As years passed by, the meaning evolved into “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it”. Such definition implies a deeper sense of awareness of one’s suffering or distress and a compelling need to help ease the burden.

Our country as well as the entire world has been suffering from a pandemic to which nobody prepared for. Lives have been taken away, hearts were broken and jobs were lost. Safely put, this unprecedented turmoil brought a lot of people into a destitute and hopeless situation. The mental state of numerous individuals has also been placed at risk due to the depression, worries, sadness, and anxieties. Having all these in play, an overarching message rings true to all; a call to be compassionate.

But why do we need to be compassionate? Why do we need to answer the call to be one? Numerous articles have been written as to why we should exercise compassion, here is a bit of a summary as to why we should:

First, it works both ways: The Dalai Lama said, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” He talks about the emotional benefit of compassion that as you help others ease their burdens; it will also take a positive effect on you like the amazing feeling of having helped someone. In short, making someone feel better makes us feel better about ourselves as well.
Second, it costs nothing: An article about the “Power of Compassion” states that we have an endless supply of compassion and it costs us nothing to share it. However, the abundance of it has to be realized in order for us to decide that we can give compassion anytime, anywhere to anybody.
Third, it builds relationships: Compassion fosters meaningful relationship that is an essential aspect of healthy human adjustment as it enables kind and loving behaviour towards others. Therefore, it is almost guaranteed that as you exercise compassion towards others, the result will be having significant relationships towards others.
Fourth, it helps people lead fulfilling lives: More like an advocacy, the act of compassion especially for those who are dependent on others for support allows them to lead more meaningful lives. Our ability to understand someone’s situation and our intention and action to improve their lives becomes an inspiration and a source of strength for others to feel that their situation can get better.
These four are but an overview of the many reasons why we should practice compassion. However, being compassionate has often been constricted in the confines of our homes and our closest relative or friends. Often we extend feeling compassionate towards the people who are really in a dire need or an extremely pitiful condition but we leave our offices scarce with it. We tend to neglect that the people we see often and interact regularly in our workplace, may need our compassion as well. Pacific Prime, an insurance company, stated four reasons on why we should practice compassion in our workplace:
Employee retention. “Employees who receive help and feel understood have a higher chance of staying in the company for a long period of time and putting their efforts into the company’s growth” Any owner or leader would want this, but as a co-worker, you would also want to practice compassion in order to raise the ratio of retention in your team.
Less stress. “Employees in a compassionate workspace feel as though they can express their professional concerns to their colleagues and socialize at work. It helps even out work stress and increases the chances of being more productive.” Again, the goal is to increase productivity more than retaining employees, so to increase the chances of being more productive, exercising compassion in the workplace is a good deal.
Better health. “One study found that employees who spent a few minutes connecting with their colleagues had a steady heart rate and blood pressure. In addition, their immune systems were functioning properly, thereby reducing the likelihood of needing sick leave” When a person worries and handles his burdens alone, his health is almost automatically affected. Having someone who your co-worker can share his burden to lessens the risk of having a health condition.
Interpersonal Relationships. “Managers and leaders who work with compassion have highly reciprocating employees who are committed to the company. Since they receive goodness at work, they often aim to achieve organizational targets. On top of that, they form healthy and strong professional relationships and enjoy being part of the team.” The benefit of compassion having to build meaningful relationships cannot be more emphasized than this; as good relationships in the workplace often lead to a more productive workforce and a more successful business.
How then can we exercise compassion in the workplace? Here is a piece of advice to aid you in becoming a beacon of hope and compassion in your workplace:
Be more patient. Notice the word “more” as it may be the case that you are already patient with your co-workers especially those that usually miss the deadline or submits erroneous reports. They may be going through something that’s why they’ve been committing mistakes. You might want to extend a little more of that thread so you may avoid snapping out on that co-worker and adding up to what he/she might be going through. A note on the side though, being patient is not being tolerant of habitual incompetencies, it is just being more understanding and being hopeful that this season will pass and your workmate will soon get back to the track.
Encourage. This technique never fails. Once a person is down or having some trouble, a word of affirmation and encouragement can lift a person’s mood better than a hydraulic jack can lift a truck in just a snap. Address the inner winner inside your co-worker when he/she is feeling like a loser. Speak life to what he/she thinks is already dead in her life; a talent, a dream, a gifting; even an emotion. Write it on a note, text it, or say it, any way you do it, as long as it is genuine and authentic, it will surely alleviate that person’s burden even for a second.
Avoid Judgement. People have different ways of dealing with stress. Some eat a lot, some rant in social media platforms, some take long walks; some tell stories while some just keep it to themselves. Avoid casting comments about them being too quiet or acting differently. That could result to a broken relationship. How you act around people who need compassion and your choice of words are tantamount to respecting what they are going through at their own pace. Maybe all they need for you to do is listen. Not to judge, not to solve their problem, not even to talk; but just to listen. So do just that.
Check. Be in the habit of checking in on your workmate. Compassion is not a one-time thing. You need to see how he/she has been doing since the day you noticed he/she is having some trouble. This is also for you to realize what else you may do to help and how you can be there for him/her. Consider your workmate’s needs at the moment too. Do this using the eyeglass of compassion, of having that awareness of what your office buddy may be going through so you can adjust your way of dealing with him/her.
Offer help. The above-mentioned bits of advice may be very helpful already but showing compassion may be more meaningful if you try to determine how to alleviate the situation and help. Although there may be co-workers that believe they are beyond help or they are too ashamed to ask for it, offer it anyway. Mere act may lift the feeling of going through everything alone. However, you think you may help him/her, offer it as much as you can. Action indeed speaks louder than words.
Navigate emotions. When the burden is too heavy and the incident is too recent, emotions tend to roll like an avalanche of snow beyond anybody’s control. So when you cannot stop it, navigate it. Emotions can be managed and navigated. You may choose to have it hit a wall of anger or divert it to a long route of processing that mellows down the intensity of it. The goal is to make your officemate’s emotion reach a place of calm and resolve. How you help navigate him/her emotion to a better place is dependent on how much you know him/her, on your knowledge of the situation, and on the impact of such ordeal to your co-worker. Say for instance, a co-worker was accused of stealing and he/she is already spiralling out of control from fear and anger. You may navigate her emotion to a place of understanding. Tell him/her that a due process will happen first before a verdict. Usually, these situations bring the pessimistic side of a person, so respond differently and bring out a glimmer of light into a dark situation to better navigate the emotions to a safer and calmer route.
So go ahead, start practicing “compassion” in your workplace and see it bring out the best in each and every one of you.