People who are under a great deal of stress tend to forget to be nice to their coworkers. This is a very human reaction to being tense, overwhelmed, or scared about the future. One way to make your workplace less awful is to be more compassionate at work. If you really don’t feel like it – then it is even more important that you rediscover your compassion.
Times are tough. You and your coworkers might be struggling to finish a big project in the days before its deadline. There might be quotas that each worker must achieve. Someone calls in sick and there is no one to replace that person. This pushes extra work onto everyone else (and makes everyone miserable.)
Things are even more stressful if certain situations are happening. A contentious presidential election can make people fearful of what the future will look like for their family. A company that is downsizing or in the midst of layoffs makes all the employees stress out about losing their jobs. An upcoming holiday season can make people worry about how they are going to pay for travel and gifts for loves ones.
In addition, an individual coworker may be struggling with difficulties that you are unaware of. A person with an “invisible illness” might be experience symptoms of their disease. Someone might be going through a divorce. Another person may be mourning the death of a loved one or a family pet. When we are struggling with stressful situations, it is easy to forget that other people are also going through a rough time.
Compassion is an interpersonal process involving the ability to notice, feel, or perceive another person’s pain and to be with or take action to alleviate that person’s suffering. Being compassionate at work, even in small ways, can change a negative workplace into a more positive one.
The coworker who called in sick didn’t do it specifically to make your day tougher. She stayed home because she honestly needs time to rest and recover. You’ve had days like that, too. Be compassionate.
The coworker who refuses to stop talking about his preferred candidate in the upcoming election might be secretly terrified that his life could be negatively affected if the other candidate wins. Be compassionate, and understand that this is how he is expressing his fears.
Random acts of compassion can greatly improve the atmosphere of the workplace. People who feel like their coworkers understand them become less stressed – and less irritable. You can make that change happen really fast by bringing a box of doughnuts into the break room for all your coworkers to enjoy!
Related Articles at Families.com: