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The act of compassion

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The act of compassion

Sympathy is about understanding or being able to recognise what another is going through or experiencing. Empathy is about feeling that experience alongside that person – being able to walk in their shoes. Compassion is like empathy plus action. Not only can you imagine and feel what the other feels, but as you are a separate entity, you can take action to help alleviate their suffering. According to the classic teachings of Buddhism, compassion is defined as ‘the heart that can tremble in the face of suffering”. It is about action and response to suffering, a desire to help.

For those of us leading teams or businesses, or simply being a leader at home or in the community, compassion has never been more essential.  

For leaders of business you can practice compassion by listening deeply to the experience people are navigating through. Ask questions, seek to understand and listen without the intent to reply or solution. Simply hold a space for the team to share their experiences and then find ways to assist.

To practice self compassion, try to talk to yourself as if you are your own best friend – with kindness, understanding, patience and wisdom. Quieten the voice that is telling you that you aren’t enough and start to listen to a more resourceful perspective.


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