If you are a leader or looking to be one, here are some suggestions to develop cognitive compassion:
Compassionate leaders are usually more aware of their own limitations and biases (conscious and unconscious) and more open to accepting criticism.
Be an active listener
It is important to inculcate good listening skills free from any judgment. It also entails carefully stating opinions to someone, when discussing underperformance or failure.
Create a safe workspace
Leaders who look out for their colleagues can make them feel secure in case they are undergoing any stress.
An approachable leader can make the team comfortable at work and provide a safe environment without any repercussions.
Cognitive compassion is also beneficial for a team/organization as it cultivates leaders who:
- Encourage diverse views which in turn helps employees table new ideas without fear of judgment.
- Bring people along once a decision is taken as they can clearly explain/rationalize the decision, incorporating all points of view
- Promote a more tolerant, open and innovative organizational culture
- Enable a better understanding of others’ perspectives that helps determine the best way to move forward in difficult situations.
Aditi Srivastava, Director of India Business at American Express, feels that cognitive compassion also drives ‘inclusion’. It creates an environment where people are open-minded and willing to understand a perspective different from theirs versus simply imposing their views. They are also able to incorporate other people’s perspectives which in turn has a cascading effect across the organization.
A culture of compassion begins with creating empathetic relationships with own team members which ultimately culminates in bringing about a common sense of purpose and engagement. Isn’t this what all organizations are always looking for?
The Dalai Lama said, “When we are motivated by compassion and wisdom, the results of our actions benefit everyone, not just ourselves or some immediate convenience.”