22 Nov 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:
- Do It Badly – not being a perfectionist (who delays tasks) moves you forward into action from being passive and stuck
- 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
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- I started to ‘worry later’ and first look after my health and recovery; taking breaks, wobbly walks, and working only short stints each day.
- 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.
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!