Does Compassion Belong in the Workplace?

A Different Way to Show Up as a Leader

Photo by Dave Lowe on Unsplash

The Bushidō code is a combination of 8 different core virtues that directed the samurai on how to live. I have researched these virtues and have adopted and blended them into the context of the time we are now living. I have also discovered that focusing on these 8 virtues is a pathway to finding Work: Life Harmony for ourselves and living a life with more overall satisfaction.

I will be writing 8 different articles, one for each virtue: Justice, Courage, Compassion, Respect, Integrity, Honor, Loyalty, & Self-Control. This is Article #3, Compassion.

We live in a world that is quick to judge. Our judgemental habits often make it easy to forget that before judging a person we ought to take a moment to consider the source of their behavior and decision-making.

Before we come up with our assumptions and reactions to their behavior we should take a pause. For instance, before we react to someone’s statement, behavior, or the way they interact with us, we need to ask ourselves: “What might cause them to behave like that?’’

What is it about courage that makes Compassion possible? It would be much harder for people to help others if there was no courage in our society. Compassion can be tempered by fear, but it becomes easier to show when there is courage present.

How do you define compassion?

The answer you give to this question will be unique to you. We all have a slightly different idea of what this means to us.

One thing we can all agree on though is that it would be showing care and love to those around us. Those people can be part of our tight-knit group of friends and family or they can be strangers.

At times, it seems like there is no compassion in the world. People are doing terrible things to each other and there never seems to be an end to the stories we hear about.

It can be hard to not let those events influence how we lead others and ourselves though. Hearing such stories can cause us to get angry and lose hope.

“Beneath the instinct to fight there lurks a divine instinct to love.” -Inazo Nitobe

I would encourage us to seek out our instincts to love especially in those types of situations where we feel the urge to fight.

Photo by Meghna R on Unsplash

What does compassion look like in how you lead?

The important thing to consider when it comes to compassion is not necessarily how you feel it is coming across, it is how it is being received by the other person.

Being aware of how we are being received by others and making sure that our intentions match their experience is a form of compassion.

Showing you care what experience the other person is having takes you out of your judgmental, ready to fight at a moment’s notice self and gives the opportunity for the lurking instinct of love to shine.

This works on us too. When we regularly check in with ourselves to see how we are doing, it shows love. Missing the opportunity to show self-love makes showing love to others a little harder.

How you can be a more compassionate leader

Here are a few ideas on how to show up more with compassion and love and less with a Fight Club mentality.

  • Practice the art of listening to others: Don’t just listen to others so you can prepare a rebuttal. When in conversation, try the 5 Second Pause. In order to make sure you aren’t cutting off others when they are talking to get your two cents in, try counting to 5 in your head before you respond. This will ensure the other person can completely finish their thought and gives you a moment to think about what you will say before you start talking.
  • Practice the art of listening to yourself: Take 5–10 minutes every day, sit in solitude with no electronics, and listen to what your inner self is trying to tell you. Reflect on your previous day and check in on what you need to make today a better day.
  • Don’t schedule your time to 100% capacity: Show yourself some love by scheduling regular breaks into your schedule so that you don’t have to be moving at 100% all the time. If you instead schedule yourself at 80% you will find that you can get more done in less time because you aren’t exhausted all the time.

If you’d like to learn more about Compassion or the other 7 virtues of the Bushidō code check out my book “Always Improving: Lessons from the samurai”.

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