The importance of compassion in the workplace

Changing beliefs and behaviours around mental health and wellbeing is at the heart of everything we do at I Am Here.

We use one simple word as a starting point towards a better working environment for everyone.

That word is compassion.

We define compassion as the desire to act to relieve the suffering in others. Cultivating that desire is the first step in creating environments across the world where individuals and businesses alike can thrive.

What are the CLEAR skills?

I Am Here’s Carole Ann Clarke engages with companies and their Team Members to get the I Am Here message across that it’s ok not to feel ok; and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help.

Carole Ann explains how forming compassionate connections is essential in all walks of life, including the workplace.

‘Compassion is one of the foundations of our CLEAR skills’, she says.

‘These are Compassion, Listening, Empathy, Acceptance and being Real with one another. Within I Am Here, what we say to people is to lead every connection with compassion.

‘Compassion comes in many ways. It’s the language you use, it’s your body language, it’s potential touch, if appropriate, and it’s how you respond to somebody who you think is not feeling ok. It’s quite simple really.

‘You continue with that theme of compassion throughout your connection points.’

'A pretty cool world to live in'

While a distinction exists between compassion and empathy, both are vitally important when engaging with someone who might be going through a difficult time.

‘When you’re empathising with somebody, you’re also using empathic language and body language and looking at somebody using eye contact. 

‘When you’re listening, it can be something as simple as nodding your head. It’s a central skill that we use throughout any connection that we have. 

‘I say to people that it’s not just about when you talk to somebody who you believe isn’t feeling ok. If we all approached work, friends and colleagues with the CLEAR skills and acted with compassion, it would be a pretty cool world to live in.’

If you are an I Am Here Tribe Member or Ambassador, you will be aware of the pivotal role you play when you Show you care, Ask the question and, ultimately, Call for help.

You will also know that performing a daily self-check to ensure you are ready to be there for others is crucial. To put it another way, you can’t help others without first making sure that your own mental health and wellbeing are in a good place.

Avoiding empathy fatigue

Finally, it is also vitally important that you are not carrying the worries and stresses of others on your own shoulders.

‘This is empathy fatigue‘, says Carole Ann. ‘Innately, if you want to step forward and help somebody, many of us can take on too much.

‘We can take on the responsibility for that person and we walk away with that responsibility, which can impact on our own mental health and wellbeing.

‘I Am Here teaches you to walk away from those conversations knowing that you’ve acted compassionately, with empathy; you’ve signposted that person and your job is done.

‘You’re not carrying the burden of that person and you can look after yourself, and that’s hugely important. I talk with leaders who might be stressed because their Team Members aren’t feeling ok.

‘They’re being impacted so I’m sharing with them that, first, they need to breathe, and second, that their only job is to Show you care, Ask the question and Call for help. It is the individual’s choice and responsibility to help themselves; all anyone can do is guide them.’

I Am Here enables cultural change in organizations prioritizing mental health and wellbeing