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Surprising benefits of cultivating self-compassion in the workplace

To many people, the idea of developing compassion at work seems too touchy-feely at best, or a possible block to motivation and productivity at worst. But new research suggests that rather than making employees and leaders appear ‘soft’, acts of kindness and altruism increase their standing in a group and their levels of productivity.

Giving you a greater edge.

Adam M. Grant, a behavioural psychologist and professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania argues that kindness and compassion give us a far greater advantage than self-absorption. Despite the archetypical portrayal of the ’scary boss’, leaders in real life rise to the top in part because everyone loves working with them and appreciates them for their kind and giving qualities.

This is because compassion makes you trustworthy – a crucial quality to possess because it makes humans feel safe. Feeling safe means the brain’s stress response is attenuated, allowing the space and flexibility of mind to allow for an increase in innovation and healthy motivation. Grant says, “When you respond in a frustrated, furious manner, the employee becomes less likely to take risks in the future, because he or she worries about the negative consequences of making mistakes. It kills the culture of experimentation that’s critical to learning and innovation.”

The benefits of compassion at work don’t end there. Cultivating mindful compassion and self-compassion will help all employees develop a healthy inner critic that creates an internal environment of healthy self-evaluation, which in contrast to the paralysing harsh inner critic, allows you to recognise and own your mistakes or shortcomings and then see more clearly what action needs to be taken (if any) and then taking that action using healthy self-motivation. .

Other ways compassion and self-compassion can give you an extra edge at work:

  • It increases motivation and willpower as you replace the harsh inner critic to a healthier, more compassionate critical voice.
  • It improves focus and mental clarity and therefore helps with improved productivity and better decision-making.
  • It makes you more resilient – you more easily bounce back in the face of failure and learn from your mistakes.
  • It makes you more emotionally intelligent and therefore improves your relationships with colleagues, clients and outside of work. You will develop more self-confidence (where needed) and more humility (where needed).
  • It lowers your stress levels and decreases feelings of overwhelm.
  • It boosts your psychological well-being and decreases anxiety and prevents depression.
  • It improves physical health from sleep to immune system function to pain issues.
  • It provides the courage and emotional buoyancy to face our own blind spots, creating space for self-development.
  • It helps create better sense of your personal boundaries and how to implement them for your own wellbeing, and to effectively support colleagues.
  • It increases natural engagement in healthy behaviours e.g. exercising, eating well and drinking/smoking less.
  • It diminishes fear of failure – helping you to take more (appropriate) risks that drive innovation and personal growth.

And much more…

Alex will teach relevant aspects from the programme, Mindful Self-Compassion, developed by psychologists Kristen Neff and Christopher Germer from the University of Texas and Harvard Medical School, respectively.

1 session: Introduction to the theory of cultivating compassion and self-compassion, plus 1 or 2 practical exercises and discussion.

4-session course: A deeper exploration of the theory of cultivating compassion and self-compassion, plus many exercises and practices to help employees develop more lasting compassion and self-compassion skills.