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Compassion – what does require
By definition, compassion is the ability to feel and understand what another person thinks and feels. Itdoesn't refer to your ability to imagine how you would feel in other people's shoes. It has nothing to do with you and your reactions. Compassion requires your willingness to understand how a certain situation looks like from another perspective and what it means to them. An inseparable part of compassion is also a deep desire to help another person to solve their problem. All three elements are necessary for compassion. To better illustrate how you can practice compassion in the workplace, I'll share with you an example, where compassion proves as an extremely successful technique.
The situation with one of my employees became difficult and burdensome. I've already had enough of it and was ready to suggest contract termination. Till that time, I saw no progress in his work and his behavior crossed the line several times.
It all began when the already successful sales team got new targets. While most sales representatives accepted it spontaneously, Marko was angry with the decision. In fact, he didn't discuss his complaints with superiors. He expressed his anger by jumping into my office from time to time and begin complaining about incompetence and lack of organization of other team members. After venting his anger, Marko would leave my office as suddenly as he jumped in.
I was puzzled by his behavior. It was no secret that he was the best sales representative and I wasn't sure what to do. Such behavior was absolutely unacceptable, and I was clear about that. However, instead of changing his behavior, Marko continued with his outbursts. I've been thinking a lot about what to do. I was aware of the big pressure, he felt about the new targets, so I was careful about my next move. At the same time, this very situation required radical measures. That option I put temporary aside as the last solution. The radical measure would bring a huge risk to Marko and the company and I didn't want to make things worse. Moreover, I didn't want to lose such a talented and worthy man.
I decided to try the compassion principle. Next time, when he jumped into my office, I tried to calm down and clear my mind first. Somehow, I've managed to stay calm while he was yelling and calling names. When I felt appeased and able to navigate this conversation calmly and steadily, I paused, looked straight at him, and asked:
- Yes, really!. The same thing is happening over and over again. Everyone here is doing what they want. No one is thinking about how we'll survive.
I gathered all the strength that could keep me calm, let the silence got in, and proceeded in a deeper
- Hmm? Tell me more about that!
He stopped for a second, apparently confused. Fortunately, confusion helped him reset. I could feel how Marko restored emotionally, relieved when the strong reaction has loosened its grip.
- I don't have time for this anymore. Everybody needs to do their job first. It is only when each of them is crystal clear what the true priorities are that we may talk about raising the targets--Marko continued with his complaints.
At that moment, I realized it was the perfect time to address an underlying problem. I decided to say outright what I felt every time he entered the office:
- It seems that this new targeting system gets you really upset.
- Yes, of course, it makes me upset. Instead of keeping people who are good at their jobs, you push them away.
- I understand that the decision about new targets is a difficult one for the entire company, especially for you in sales. It was not easy for anyone, but it is necessary for the company's survival. I want you to know that the top management has great hopes for you because they know what you did for our company in the past. They also know what kind of pressure you are struggling with and how hard it is for all of you. When you have enough time, I would like to talk to you about the problems you have and go through every possible alternative to make things work for you. What do you think? I paid close attention to Marko. Tension from his face disappeared, his look was no longer hostile, and he finally relaxed.
- Okay, I'm in.
- That's fine! Is there anything else I can do for you?
- No, thank you. That'll be enough.
I smiled and patted his shoulder.
- We'll make it.
He smiled back and said:
- I'm sorry. The last few weeks I really acted like a complete asshole. I was under a lot of pressure. It won't repeat again.
And it didn't. Marko stayed with the company for a long time and became a successful sales manager. This example is just one of many about compassion and its effects on people when they act too emotionally. Next time, when you face a problem, try to surprise your employees, your boss, or your clients. Stay calm and just listen. While listening, try to understand their perspective, however difficult it may seem at first. You'll be surprised by the result.