How to Be More Compassionate

For the past couple weeks I have focused on how we can think a little more about other people and help take care of each other. Essentially, I am taking about compassion.

The dictionary defines compassion as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it” or its simple definition: “a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.”

Health magazine in its January/February 2016 issue said in “The (Real) Secret to Happiness” that showing compassion could help you feel better about yourself and the world around you.

So here are some tips on how to be more compassionate with our coworkers, our staff, friends, family and ourselves:

Communicate in person. We are so focused on our phones and our computers that we forget how uplifting in person conversation can be especially when someone is in need.

Operate like the calmest person you know or at least try to match the energy of the person in need. Even if your personality is much more kinetic and loud, when someone is in need or stressed, high energy can be unsettling.  For the time they need to vent or to tell their story, pretend you are projecting the best Zen master.

Make time for the things and people that matter to you. Again, it is easy for us to say we’re too busy, we don’t have enough time but if we don’t recharge ourselves with the things that bring us happiness we won’t present our best to others.

Project calm. People might pick up on your mood, which could influence theirs.  If you are calm and steady, hopefully that vibe will transfer to your team, client, or friend.

Attune yourself to the surroundings and the environment. This can be especially helpful at meetings and group settings.  If you can notice people becoming agitated or the environment seems tense, you might be able to help clarify positions.

“Should”, “have to”, “must” – these are words for our grants and our program manuals, not words we include in conversations. When we use those words we make it sound like we know better than the person we are talking to and may make them resistant to hear what else we are saying.

Seek out the person that makes you feel loved, content and safe. Make spending time with that person a priority to help recharge.  If you are conscious of how you can help others and show compassion, it can drain you.  Make sure you have your own safe zone.  If there isn’t a person to fill that need, look at making your home your safe zone, or maybe look at getting a pet.

Invest in quiet time to help recharge yourself. We may think we have to be connected all the time.  We have the right to take time for ourselves and do what makes us happy without all the outside noise.

Offer a safe judgement free zone when talking to clients, coworkers, etc. It is hard to contain our opinions when someone is presenting problems but many times people just want to vent and know they’ve been heard.  If they ask for help, then that’s different.

“Never” and “always” become fighting words when describing someone’s actions. In my 40 plus years, I have yet to see anyone be so consistent that they ‘never’ or ‘always’ do something.  But it is easy to use those accusations in the heat of the moment.

Good luck!

Jennifer Dreibelbis is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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