Take compassionate action
Here is our 10-point guide to bringing more compassion to your life and the lives of those around you.
Whenever you are in groups, try to create a space for those who are often marginalized. This could be both in meetings at work or when you are socializing, for example.
Ways to do this include:
- Asking people questions to involve them.
- Avoid speaking over someone or butting in.
- Help someone else interject if they are struggling to be heard.
- If you are chairing a meeting, use practices like the raising of hands as the cue for making contributions (this can be easier than having to interrupt).
When someone comes to you in pain or you notice someone is suffering you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to say or do. Here are some approaches that can be helpful:
- If appropriate, offer to give them a hug. Physical contact can be extremely soothing.
- Show understanding. This can be done by repeating things that the person has said and asking if you have understood them correctly.
- Provide validation. Demonstrate that what the person is feeling is valid. Don’t use phrases like “It’s not that bad really” or “It could be worse”
- Ask how you can help. This shows that you are willing to engage with this person’s problems and turns them towards thinking about what can be done.
- Throughout, speak in a warm and understanding tone.,
Call it out
Prejudice takes root and grows when people don’t call it out. Interventions help to show solidarity with the target of abuse or intolerance and demonstrate to observers that such language or actions are not acceptable.
To safely call out prejudice:
- If you notice someone being verbally abused, speak to them directly. Ask if they are okay and how you can help them.
- If prejudicial language is being used in a group setting without the object of that language being present, use de-escalating phrases like “Hey, I wanted you to know that I don’t think that kind of language is okay.”
Practicing self-compassion has been shown to help reduce feelings of shame, lessen anxiety, and increase happiness and wellbeing. And while it might be hard to practice a long meditation every morning, it’s possible to take quick doses of self-compassion everyday.
- Each day try saying to yourself the following phrase: “May I be safe, may I be peaceful, may I be kind to myself, may I accept myself as I am”.
- If you find yourself struggling with your emotions say “I am not alone” or “I am struggling in this moment and that’s okay.”
Giving a cause or person the gift of your time is one of the most valuable things you can offer. It can also be extremely rewarding – providing a sense of purpose and connection to the world around you. There are lots of websites that will help you to identify volunteering opportunities in your local and national area and dependent on your skills and time. You might also consider volunteering with the GCC itself as a Compassion Connector.
Recognize our shared humanity
It’s useful to remind ourselves of this on a daily basis. As you go about your daily business remind yourself that everyone you meet is a human like you and is almost certainly struggling with some kind of suffering. You can practice this while you’re in the queue at the shops, in a meeting at work, or as you type out an email to a colleague.
In a fast-paced society, we may not always feel heard and seen by those around us. To help someone feel appreciated and understood, practice active listening:
- Try to avoid planning what to say while the other person is speaking. Really take in what they say. It’s okay to pause for reflection when they have finished.
- Ask questions: this shows you care and are engaged.
- Use non-verbal cues such as nodding, smiling, and eye contact to show you are listening.
- Try to remember important aspects of what the person has shared and remember to follow-up about them at a later date.
Walk in another’s shoes
If you find yourself in a heated discussion with someone or in an otherwise frustrating situation and think you might retaliate with harsh words, try to mentalize yourself into their shoes. This is a helpful practice that can be used to defuse tension and produce more favourable outcomes. To do this:
- Take a quick breath before responding. The longer you leave before responding the more considered your response is likely to be.
- Think of some reasons that could explain this persons’ behavior. Perhaps they have difficulties at home, a loved-one is unwell, they’ve just been criticized by their manager, or maybe they just got a bad night’s sleep. Whatever it is, no one starts their day intending to be a source of stress to others.
- With this in mind, try to make your next words as constructive as possible. You can ask yourself: is what I am about to say true, useful, and kind?
When work is focused on outputs and deliverables, we often forget to offer people encouragement. In fact, the more someone produces the more we are likely to assume that they are “fine” and don’t need support. But the truth is, we all need validation and providing compliments and positive feedback is the easiest way to offer that. Remember to thank, praise, and congratulate your colleagues. Of course you don’t want to overdo this to the point it becomes insincere but if someone is working on a project and you can’t recall the last time you thanked them or praised them for their work it’s safe to say such a compliment won’t go amiss!
Be a source of warmth
Leadership doesn’t have to involve giving orders or making decisions. Often, leadership is much more about the kind of environment your words and actions create. People perform and feel better in contexts that are supportive, warm, and open. You can create that kind of environment in any place or time simply by speaking with a warm voice, asking people questions about their welfare, practicing non-judgement, and using a friendly expression.