Wharton’s Sigal Barsade says demonstrating “companionate love” in the workplace is vital to employee morale, teamwork and customer satisfaction.
Already, though, the research seems to be pointing to a strong message for managers in all industries, Barsade says: tenderness, compassion, affection and caring matter at work. “Management can do something about this,” she says. “They should be thinking about the emotional culture. It starts with how they are treating their own employees when they see them.
tenderness, compassion, affection and caring matter at work.
Are they showing these kinds of emotions? And it informs what kind of policies they put into place. This is something that can definitely be very purposeful — not just something that rises organically.
What is the role of compassion in the workplace? Very simply, it is one of the four fundamentals of leadership excellence, of mindful leadership, and of living mindfully. And it can be a new year's resolution that you can implement starting today!
Compassion at Work
Compassion can be brought into each work day through simple acts of kindness. When we choose to take a purposeful pause and offer a colleague a compliment, or a word of encouragement, or inquire into their well-being, we bring kindness into the workplace. And the ripple effect of kindness is limitless. A compassionate leader can transform the most challenging workplace. When a leader embodies compassion and is seen as a kind person, even his or her toughest messages are more likely to be received well. After all, when we work with someone who honestly respects, includes, and values us, it goes a long way to making us trust his or her decisions.
It’s hard to measure the effect that empathy has on the bottom line. However, my experience shows that the best kind of business happens when both parties feel they can be trusting, open and understood. Theodore Roosevelt said, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Good business is built on good relationships, and empathy is the root of strong relationships. Yes, it’s important to be knowledgeable about product and process, but without empathy, “no one cares.”
Empathy is the ability to identify and understand another's situation, feelings, and motives. Find out why this is so important in the workplace.
Empathy is also particularly critical to leadership development in this age of young, independent, highly marketable and mobile workers. In a popular Harvard Business Review article entitled "What Makes a Leader?", Dr Daniel Goleman isolates three reasons why empathy is so important: the increasing use of teams, (which he refers to as "cauldrons of bubbling emotions"), the rapid pace of globalization (with cross cultural communication easily leading to misunderstandings) and the growing need to retain talent.
"Leaders with empathy," states Goleman, "do more than sympathize with people around them: they use their knowledge to improve their companies in subtle, but important ways." This doesn't mean that they agree with everyone's view or try to please everybody. Rather, they "thoughtfully consider employees' feelings – along with other factors – in the process of making intelligent decisions."
Compassionate workplaces - good for employees AND the corporate bottom line.
Managers often mistakenly think that putting pressure on employees will increase performance. What it does increase is stress—and research has shown that high levels of stress carry a number of costs to employers and employees alike.
Stress brings high health care and turnover costs. In a study of employees from various organizations, health care expenditures for employees with high levels of stress were 46 percent greater than at similar organizations without high levels of stress. In particular, workplace stress has been linked to coronary heart disease in retrospective (observing past patterns) and prospective (predicting future patterns) studies. Then there’s the impact on turnover: 52 percent of employees report that workplace stress has led them to look for a new job, decline a promotion...
This is the kind of dialogue we are trying to promote at the Compassion and Business Conference on April 30 at Stanford University, hosted by the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), of which I am the Associate Director.
by Emma M. Seppala, Ph.D.
Culture of Empathy Builder Page: Emma Malcolm Seppala
Recently I gave a seminar for the top 100 or so leaders of a global manufacturing company, at the invitation of the head of HR. It was their annual leadership development meeting...
I’ve never seen a list of a great leader’s abilities that did not include impactful communication. And that requires empathy – the third domain of emotional intelligence. There are two specific kinds of empathy; one is cognitive empathy, understanding how others think about the world. Once you know their mental models you can put what you have to say in terms that will make most sense to them.
The second kind, emotional empathy, means you can sense immediately how another person feels. This means you can fine-tune what you say so it has a positive impact.
I have just returned from an interesting experience in Washington. D.C.: a panel discussion with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The event was sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a leading neo-conservative think tank responsible for m...
Whether you call it personal development, personal growth, self-actualization, self-transcendence, or spirituality does not matter. What matters is realizing that the reason you were born is to become the best human being you can possibly be.
I took part in a conference in London to explore the benefits of creating a culture of compassion at work.
My role was to introduce and interview the speakers - leading business professors, consultants, psychologists, scientists, teachers, healthcare professionals and others who have been studying compassion and how it can transform companies and organisations...
Here are six things I learned about why this matters:
1. Stress is bad for business...
2. Compassion boosts the bottom line...
3. Givers come out on top...
4. Compassion makes us happier and healthier...
5. Kindness is contagious...
6. Everyone wins...
Andy Fraser - Journalist focusing on empathy and compassion
Most leaders have learned along the way that empathy is a critical leadership skill but few have an understanding of why. Empathy is a form of attention that goes beyond the intellect and involves directly sensing what it is like to be in someone else's shoes. How do we do this?
We sense what other people are experiencing or feeling by sensations that arise in our own bodies. All of us are like walking antennas, receiving and registering the felt experience of those around us. Some of us are better at this than others.
A client of mine is totally fed up with his boss. He has recently undergone quite a difficult, uncomfortable operation – the second in a series. Since then, there have been several interactions with his boss. Not once has he been asked how he is; worse, the task heat is full-on with a series of late night conference calls, led by the boss who always requires my client’s attendance. Amazed by the complete lack of empathy shown by his boss, my client is fast losing trust in him.
Empathy is right at the core of trusted relationships. If someone is genuinely on our side, interested in what we are thinking and feeling, and intent on helping us out – then we feel safer with them, readier to talk about what is uncomfortable and challenging for us, and more prepared to give them our trust.