Common Misconceptions About Compassion and Business

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Group_'FREE_HUGS';_Tokyo (1) Our last blog highlighted some of the benefits of cultivating a compassionate work culture.  This week we address some common myths about compassion and business.

Myth #1:  Compassion is weakness.  When we see someone in pain, our instinctive response is to self-protect.  Brene’ Brown says this in her book The Gifts of Imperfection, "We protect ourselves by looking for someone or something to blame.  Or sometimes we shield ourselves by turning to judgment or immediately going into fix it mode."  Choosing to have compassion, to enter in to someone else's struggle is profoundly courageous.

Myth #2  Compassion has no place at work. As a young manager-in-training at my first post-college job, I often heard the mantra, "leave your problems at the door."  The implication being that we could separate whatever major life issues we were experiencing from the work we were being asked to complete.  Unfortunately, reality gets in the way.  Most of us spend more time at work than any other place.  More time than with our families or friends.  For this reason alone, we must be able to give and receive compassion at work.

Tim Sanders, Yahoo executive and best -selling author extols the high need for compassion at work "... perhaps most important, be as openly human as you can be and find the courage to express genuine emotion in the harried, pressure-filled world of work."

Myth #3  Compassionate people end up becoming doormats.  We fear that to have compassion means not holding people accountable for their actions.  However, research shows that truly compassionate people are the best boundary setters.   Brene’ Brown again, "'s difficult to accept people when they are hurting us or taking advantage of us or walking all over us.  This research has taught me that if we really want to practice compassion, we have to start by setting boundaries and holding people accountable for their's impossible to practice compassion from a place of resentment. "

Are there other objections you have or have heard to practicing compassion at work?

For ways to practice compassion at work, check out this article from the Harvard Business Review.  And watch Brene Brown on TEDtalks.





photo courtesy of Wikimedia