Compassion. What exactly is it? We get confused between compassion and empathy, which is an awareness and attempt to understand others’ emotions. Compassion is an emotional reaction to help someone based on empathy and sympathy and is an integral aspect of any healthy relationship.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, we are encouraged to be more aware of the value of love, but it needn’t be restricted to one person. This Valentine’s Day, use it as an opportunity to be compassionate to everyone around you—not just our nearest and dearest.
We have the power to hurt, yet we have a much greater capacity to heal. Cynicism born of disappointment may conflict with our ability to treat others without judgment. However, displaying kindness and support from the empathy of shared experience takes us to a happier place.
Compassion develops meaningful connections, creates ease in group problem-solving, and improves mental well-being. Through understanding, we recognize and stand up against cruelty towards others, inequality, and racism, and develop a tolerance for those with opposing viewpoints. This is particularly true when it comes to our working lives. Treating colleagues in shared office spaces with respect and compassion is a reflection of how we ourselves wish to be treated, and providing support to those that face similar stresses in their business lives can only help foster a nurturing and supportive culture of professionalism, diversity, and courtesy.
Nelson Mandela once said that as humans, we are bound together by our compassion. We have the choice to demonstrate compassion to others every day. It is a natural and spontaneous reaction for some. For others, it is more difficult.
Expressing Compassion and Empathy Every Day
Compassion is expressed in a look, physical or verbal gesture, or combination of support and action. It is felt and understood through the offer of hope, support, and understanding.
We live in a digital world. Cell phone calls, texting, emails, and social media posts may provide a quick and temporary expression; however, they are a distant bandage. The power of a warm smile, affectionate hug, squeeze of a hand, or pat on the back can help ease someone’s burden and demonstrate understanding. While it is difficult to convey these physical feelings during the current pandemic, virtual technology may help as a second-best option.
Express Interest and Kindness
Show consideration of someone else’s viewpoint and respect that theirs may differ from yours. Demonstrate interest in another person’s feelings and why they feel as they do. Show kindness through support. Volunteer within an aspect of their life that is difficult or be there just to listen.
Acting out of compassion is not meant to be a false action. We may need to develop skills and attributes that lead to a compassionate response, depending upon our own life experiences.
Awareness of how we feel is the beginning—acting upon these positive emotions to do a service, whether by being kind, being a listener, giving a hug, or going the extra mile to help someone out of their current predicament, is all a mark of the truly compassionate person. It is rewarding for both those who give and receive, and Valentine’s Day is a perfect opportunity to extend our compassion, support to those in need, and give back.