Updated: Jun 12, 2020
What is compassion?
Compassion = empathy + helpful action
‘One definition of compassion suggests that it is a deep feeling for and understanding of misery or suffering and the concomitant desire to promote its alleviation’ (Cherry, 2014).
5 components of compassion:
Recognize suffering in others/self
Understanding the common humanity of this suffering
Feeling emotionally connected with the person/self who is suffering
Tolerating difficult feelings that may arise
Acting or being motivated to help the person/self
What is the compassion fade?
Compassion fade is a concept that explains the relationship of compassion and group size of afflicted person(s); the larger the group of affliction, the lower our compassion. There are many studies showing evidence for this regarding large scale relief events. For example a person is more likely to donate to an individual in despair than a nation of people following a natural disaster.
According to the compassion fade, we are most likely to have the highest level of compassion with ourselves and as our compassion goes beyond self, it decreases in the motivation to act.
Why is compassion important in the workplace?
If we recognize the compassion fade and the components of compassion, our awareness of these definitions allow us to be more attentive to connecting empathy to actions. Compassion is important in the workplace as many workplaces are social environments; there will likely be interactions between yourself and your colleagues, your team members, your managers and your clients.
Every person within our working lives, has their own collections and perceptions of reality and when they experience suffering, the managerial relationship will rely on the individual connection to act compassionately.
Within larger teams, compassion could appear more difficult, however a compassionate manager is one that make efforts to connect and understand each person on their team. They behave and lead through a relation or person-centric approach, typically having more autonomy and company resources to help support someone in a time of suffering.
Making time to meet with your team members individually and regularly is a great way to build trust and empathy. This type of relationship will improve comfortability for employees to share and/or be receptive to managerial concerns about their wellbeing.
Why should we be more compassionate?
Positive effects of compassion include:
Increases resilience and self-awareness
Improves your mood
Leads to more satisfaction
Reduces fear and depression
Creates a sense of deep joy
As previously mentioned, developing self-compassion is important in developing compassion for others. For sustainability, managers or company leaders, should treat themselves with the same compassion they would want from someone else or give to someone else.
Effects of self-compassion:
Psychological flexibility through questioning ones owns emotions as they arise
Enhances our intrinsic motivation
Improves hedonic and eudemonic wellbeing
Encourages courage, gratitude, appreciation and forgiveness
Increase of love and connection within and with others