- the benefits of being compassionate and the importance of compassion for leaders
- research from the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds indicating compassion can be trained through meditation.
- questions from an Academy of Management Review (AMR) article about compassion in the workplace and the growing scholarship in this area.
Tragedies happen. People suffer. Co-workers suffer. This “spills over into our professional lives as well” (p. 689). When someone notices this suffering, feels another’s suffering, then the behavior of that person changes. This is called a pain trigger. Pain triggers disrupt ordinary workplace functioning as people respond compassionately to the sufferer. As others become aware, a self-organization occurs informally. People express sympathy, people offer “Is there anything I can do?” The form compassion takes depends on the situation, the nature of the suffering, and the culture of the organization. Over time trigger events elevate the role of compassionate behavior among people in the workplace. Compassion becomes a norm, something the work group expects of others. It may in time become a core value.
I had a trigger event a few years ago. Seemingly out of nowhere, in the middle of the night I nearly died. For three days my life was in doubt. It took many months to recover from my surgeries. My classrooms were disrupted. Others had to carry my workload. During those months as I recovered, I felt the compassion of my colleagues, the college staff, and the students. Card after card arrived. And then repeated cards from the same people. And then more cards. And e-mails. And inquiries and offers of help to my wife. And eventually visits to my home, an hour’s drive for most. I felt the compassion of others in my organization. It renewed my passion for teaching and my commitment to my colleagues and our college. But what if a different place? Different people? Perhaps a different result.
Madden, L. T., Duchon, D, Madden, T. M., & Plowman, D. A. (2012). Emergent organizational capacity for compassion. Academy of Management Review, 37 (4), 689-708.
Card image by reDeFyne Ratnam from http://www.flickr.com/photos/redefyne/88624891/
Use with permission: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en
© John Ballard, PhD, 2016. All rights reserved.
Author of Decoding the Workplace, BEST CAREER BOOK Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2016.
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