Written by: Kresh Pidial, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Compassion, according to the Cambridge dictionary, is “a strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for the suffering or bad luck of others and a wish to help them”. It has been shown to enrich workplace relations, enhance leadership styles, increase employee satisfaction and improve mental health. Yet what exactly is it?
Practicing compassion is a type of behaviour and we can think of it in the following way:
Noticing – we become aware of another’s pain and suffering
Feeling – we sense emotion for the suffering experienced by another person
Responding – we take action to alleviate another’s pain and suffering
Simple right? Not really. Not all of us are inclined to be compassionate. It depends on a number of elements including the way we were brought up, our worldview, our willingness to help another, our values, and the role modeling we have had in our lives. Rest assured though, it is a behaviour that can be learnt and the positive impacts far outweigh not being compassionate!
How do we even start practicing compassion? Initially, it’s becoming aware of someone’s disposition and sentiment. For example, ‘noticing’ a pregnant woman standing on the bus, you may then think, “she may be tired standing”(feeling) and subsequently offer to give her your seat (responding). This is an act of compassion – understanding another’s pain and then taking action to alleviate it. However, the challenge lies in becoming aware of another’s pain in the first place! A lot of us these days are so focused on ourselves and our personal tech devices we rarely notice the plight of others. Perhaps take a challenge upon yourself to notice more around you and see how you feel and respond to the situation.
A lot of us get confused about the difference between empathy and compassion. Empathy is the ability to understand another person, the somewhat cliched “putting yourself in their shoes.” Though whilst we can understand someone’s perspective/situation, that’s where it stops. We ‘notice’ and ‘feel’ another’s pain and suffering but we do not respond by taking action. If a close friend were experiencing grief, we would notice and feel their sadness – this is empathy. Compassion would be to take it one step further and take action to help them through their experience.
Practicing compassion not only has a positive impact on others but we feel good about ourselves too. And yes if you’re not naturally inclined, it will initially be uncomfortable. But compassion is like a muscle, the more you practice it, the stronger your behaviour is embedded. Before long, being compassionate will be second nature!
Kresh Pidial, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Kresh Pidial is a registered Psychologist passionate about helping individuals live a more fulfilled life. She is the founder of Joie Life, a warm, down-to-earth practice dedicated to helping individuals live more authentically. Kresh works with people that are experiencing life changes, anxiety, stress, pressure at work, career transitions, low motivation, low self-esteem, relationship issues and depression. She has worked in several professions and industries, including investment banking and consulting, providing her with a unique understanding of issues experienced in the workplace. Kresh holds a Master of Psychology (Organisational) and Master of Commerce (Marketing).