Compassion in business – being kind to ourselves and showing empathy for others makes for better business. I found out myself. And science proves it, too. By Copywriter Daniela Cavalletti on the Cavalletti Communications Blog

Whispering The (Business) Language of Love

Why Being Compassionate Makes Good Business Sense

Written by Daniela Cavalletti

4 min read

There was a time early last year, when my life resembled a Monty Python sketch: one surreal event following another. The “what the heck …?!” feeling reached top-pythonesque levels when my scooter was rear-ended by a car and I was sent flying.

Boom! Crack! … Sigh …

The day the car hit me, I felt I had checked into hotel Fawlty Towers for good. From nasty ex-landlords and an ailing family member, to looming wrangles with insurance companies and limping through the next months in pain: I had covered a fair number of exhausting events.

Have You Ever Seen A Quiet Italian or German?

No, me neither. If you know me personally, you’ll notice that I take pride in my mixed heritage of being German-Italian – and all the weird internal fights that brings at times. Shall I be creative or analytical? Socks and sandals, or high heels? Pasta or potatoes? Argggghhh! … One thing my mixed genes never fight about is whether to be active or passive.

Slowing down and – god forbid! – standing still is hard, very hard, for me.

Red-Hot Panic Button

The accident gave generously: whiplash in all its ugly glory, some very impressive bruises, plus a mashed-up left elbow that made typing very painful and mostly impossible, and more.

I started to panic.

How would I run my business? My team covers the project executions, the writing, yes, – but what about my clients? What about me looking after my team? And who would do the business development?

This all pressed some ego buttons for me: guilt, not being up to the task, not being good enough.

Do It Badly, Worry Later, Help Others

Anxiety started to jab at me, when, in the nick of time, I remembered a TEDx talk I watched not long ago. It laid out three key factors that help beat that feeling of lack of control, fear and overwhelm; of panic:

  1. Do It Badly – not being a perfectionist (who delays tasks) moves you forward into action from being passive and stuck
  2. Wait to Worry – realise you want to blame yourself, … then forgive yourself for now and treat yourself like you would treat a friend: gently and with empathy
  3. Help Others – it gives you purpose and connection, and shifts the spotlight away from yourself (and your worries)

 

Compassion, a form of the many-faceted empathy, underlies these coping techniques.

And it got me thinking.

Discovering Compassion

What I realised is that just how important the concept of compassion is to me. I’ve tried to make it a cornerstone of my business; how I treat my staff, suppliers, competitors and my clients – it’s become part of the CavaCom culture.

But I had never actually properly applied it to myself.

Being in the pickle I found myself in post-accident, I had two options: sink or swim. Focus on the negative – or try and wring some positives, some learning from the situation. Pretend it’s all going swimmingly and falter – or show myself some compassion and kindness.

It was worth giving it a whirl:

  1. I started doing things ‘badly’: answering emails later than usual, not hiding the fact that I struggled to keep up, and asking for medical leave from my networking group which I’ve been religiously attending weekly for years.
  2. I started to ‘worry later’ and first look after my health and recovery; taking breaks, wobbly walks, and working only short stints each day.
  3. I managed to take focus away from myself and put bad days into perspective by doing simple acts of kindness; a smile here, a kind word there; a donation.

 

And it worked.

Everyone – clients, colleagues, competitors and staff – responded with understanding and support. An enormous weight was lifted off my shoulders. Compassion gave me the space I needed to get better and it ultimately sped up my recovery. 

Turn Up the Compassion Dial

Too many of us still see showing kindness and compassion in business as a weakness; an Achilles heel. Thus, we subconsciously make that defeatist believe – that if we’re showing compassion towards our clients, competitors, colleagues, suppliers or staff, they will take us for granted or for a ride – a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But being kind to ourselves and showing compassion makes for better business. I found out for myself that it does. And science proves it, too.

So forget French: compassion is the (business) language of love.

Whether we’re at the giving or receiving end of compassion – it makes us happier, and more productive and loyal humans. That goes for all of us in business: the boss, the team, and the clients. And even your competitors.

Running a compassionate business?
Ooh la la  – it’s a win, win, win!

2 Comments
  • Steven Quinlan
    Posted at 09:23h, 22 November

    Great post. Self Compassion is a very important trait but one of the hardest to inact. Sorry to hear about the accident but glad it gave you some time to reflect and then to be able to share. Cheers

    • Daniela Cavalletti
      Posted at 12:23h, 22 November

      Thank you, Steven. I was lucky, and back in the saddle now. I’m glad to have learnt lessons of patience and self-compassion that still serve me (and the business) well.