We see a lot about office wellbeing, health, fitness, nutrition, countless articles on how to make a better office environment; get some plants, open some windows etc. But today how about we talk about the ‘C’ word. Compassion.
Picture this, Its 9.30am on a Tuesday morning. You’ve received a fairly narky email from Karen across the office, the tone of the email is angry, annoyed and generally quite rude. What do you do?
It would be easy to fire over a quick response putting Karen firmly back in her box. Perhaps you like the more direct root of marching over to her desk with a list of reasons why her email is unnecessary. You are completely in the right. Once you have responded you can happily get along with your day. Telling anyone who will listen to what terrible behaviour you must put up with.
Now let’s change the perspective.
Karen was in the office early on Monday after a very stressful weekend with her kids and ill mother. She worked tirelessly through her to-do list, sat through several pointless meetings and found out from her boss that her holiday wasn’t being approved because he was off to the South of France for a long weekend.
Feeling completely deflated and like she doesn’t matter at all she begins to pack up for the day when she received an email from you, short and perhaps a little rude. It asked her to take on another task and that you wanted this done ASAP.
At the end of her tether, close to tears, with no one to talk to Karen shot back a narky reply informing you she was busy and would try to get it done this week. She heads to pick up the kids, visit her mum, cook dinner, and the list goes on.
It’s extremely easy to write this off, say Karen should leave home at home. Perhaps even say she isn’t cut out for the job? However, on National Samaritans Awareness Day can we change the dialogue?
Could you have gone and asked Karen in person if you wanted something urgent so you could explain why? – Maybe you could you have called her? – Could you have stepped away from her reply and just taken a few breaths before replying?
It’s easy to get swept away in our own stories and challenges but lets always remember there is someone else on the end of these emails. That person might need some compassion.
Whether it’s a short rude email, someone who doesn’t engage with social life in the office. Perhaps a colleague who has suddenly taken sitting on their own for lunch.
What can we do not as workmates but as fellow humans to show some compassion and hopefully help even just a little bit?
Try to communicate in person
its easy to keep firing off email after email and not really think about their impacts, and it’s not always practical to have a conversation about every small task. That said human interaction and a simple please can make all the difference to someone’s day
Encourage positive interaction
If something went well or you notice someone working hard then why not shout about it. Tell them you’ve noticed, point it out to others. So much of our feedback can have a negative tone so let’s change it up
Have SELF compassion
When someone is always putting themselves down, never taking time for themselves and generally has no thought for themselves they can drain the life out of themselves and everyone around them. Lead from the front by speaking positivity about yourself, encouraging communication when things aren’t working for you, make sure YOU are leaving the office on time. If you don’t do it, how can everyone else?
Create open forums
We don’t mean weekly meetings but if that works then some kind of meet up, but perhaps a suggestion box, an online chat area, or simply a break room discussion on particular topics regularly? The more open people feel they can be the more compassion they will feel and express.
Think before you act
Perhaps encouraging yourself and others to have the 5 long breath rule. If you receive a less than pleasant email or even phone call takes 5 longs breaths, better yet set away from your desk and make a brew. Just a couple of minutes is all it takes to gain perspective and manage your actions towards others.
You might have some ideas yourself on how to encourage compassion in the office, we’d love to hear them. And just remember in a world where you can be anything, be kind.