What you don’t know CAN hurt you…

There are many traits you can develop to improve your life and help you achieve your goals as successfully as those you admire.

Today we dissect three crucial characteristics you must master if you want your success to jump to the next level and avoid burnout in the process…

Sympathy. Empathy. Compassion.

Sympathy

This is about understanding what the other person is experiencing i.e. I am sorry you are in distress. However, it may be received by others as pity and feels disconnected. For instance, I am in your dark room with you for a short visit, then I leave and all is fine with me.


Empathy

This is about feeling what the other person is experiencing i.e. and thanks to our mirror neurons, I am feeling your distress or happiness. Empathy may still be received as pity, but feels more connected than sympathy. I am in your dark room with you for a short visit, then I leave and all is NOT fine with me.


Compassion

This is about feeling and understanding what the other person is experiencing, wishing to see a relief of the suffering and desiring to reduce or eliminate the suffering. This is not received as pity, yet still feels connected. I am standing outside your dark room with you to gain perspective on how I can help you get out.


Although each one - sympathy, empathy and compassion has its place and time that makes it the best choice, let’s look at how these elements may be perceived by others in the workplace and why the healthiest road leads to compassion when dealing with colleagues.

Sympathy-Empathy-Compassion


The path to least resistance

Sympathy

You show that you are sorry someone is in distress yet you don’t seem to get the reaction you expect and can’t understand why. It is not that others are being insensitive. It has to do with how your ‘goodwill’ is being perceived.

By displaying concern for another person but giving no indication that the other person’s situation impacts you, you may be perceived by colleagues as cold and self-absorbed!

This can negatively impact others trusting you and can fuel gossiping if you feel the need to share the information you have learned about someone with others.


Empathy

At the other end of the scale is empathy. You feel EVERYTHING. This in itself is not an issue but when ‘everything’ you feel has a major impact on your world then it can be problematic.

Frequently feeling empathy without an outlet for your emotions can lead to overwhelm. This will have damaging effects on your health in the long term… it is known as empathic burnout or empathy fatigue.

This issue is prevalent in the healthcare and social service industries. The more empathetic your nature, the more important it becomes to establish and communicate adequate boundaries.

If you are prone to this characteristic it is vital to have a way to decompress otherwise you can suffer from chronic fatigue and become disillusioned with the work environment because it depletes rather than fuels you.

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Compassion

When you practice compassion, you don’t see the person who is suffering in a disadvantaged position but as someone who has the power to change their circumstance. Compassion does not lead to burnout because it is uplifting.

Your goal is to help the other person find clarity of what is needed and if possible, provide support for them to achieve their desired outcome. As a result you are perceived in high regard because you provide solutions, or at least valued insight, to problems without creating drama.

To practice compassion in the workplace, help others identify the blockers to their professional progress and identify where you, or someone you know, can remove these blockers. As a colleague or manager, you may be in a position to directly assist with the other person’s desired outcome.


Personal transformation never stops

As humans, we crave more from life than just existing in the world. There are many ways you can grow as a person, accomplish your current goals and help others along the way. Sympathy, Empathy and Compassion - are three characteristics you can master on your journey to creating a fulfilling life… over time, with practice, you too can master these traits ‘naturally’.

... remember, stay curious and keep learning.

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