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    Dr. Monica Worline is the co-founder of EnlivenWork, an organization that teaches other organizations how to use compassionate leadership to humanize and energize the workplace. In addition, she is a research scientist and the Executive Director of Compassion Lab. Her co-authored book, Awakening Compassion at Work: The Quiet Power That Elevates People and Organizations, is a practical guide to practicing compassion on the job. She joins Marcel to discuss the book and how its principles apply to all organizations.

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    Show Notes

    • Compassion is often misunderstood as a four-part human experience that unfolds in relation to suffering or pain. The four parts are: notice someone’s pain; interpret their pain as worth one’s time, attention and action; empathize; and take action to alleviate or address the pain. Marcel adds that people believe the fourth step is the most crucial since they think that true compassion is removing the burden from someone’s shoulders. [7:29]
    • Kindness and compassion are often mixed up together. The key differentiator, Monica says, is that kindness is a voluntary activity that helps another person flourish, whether there is suffering or not. [9:10]
    • Humans have an innate instinct to help those who are suffering, but we unlearn it through institutions and/or family structures. [12:58]
    • There is a cultural and normative bias built into the word ‘compassion’ as it is most often associated with words like ‘nurture’ and ‘care.’ These connotations make compassion seem like “women’s work” and only fit for caregiving institutions, Monica argues. This may hold people back from speaking about or practicing compassion in the workplace for fear of being perceived as ‘weak’ or ‘soft.’ [17:44]
    • Companies lose billions of dollars every month due to a lack of compassion, Monica says. Marcel shares his experience in a toxic work environment where he was sent to the ER due to stress-related back pain. [20:17]
    • Commitment and retention are two major benefits of building a compassionate culture at work. Compassion is essential in the trial and error world of the innovation industry. [25:44]
    • A powerhouse leader is someone who prioritizes connecting with human beings over strategic aims. [31:00]
    • Leaders should make space in their organizations for compassion so that it becomes part of the fabric of the organization. This can be designed within the organization’s networks, roles, routines, and culture. [33:23]
    • The main obstacle to interpersonal compassion is fear: we fear giving compassion because we believe we would be perceived as weak, and we fear to receive it because we believe we would be taken advantage of. [41:33]
    • Monica shares a sociological theory that argues that people will take advantage of you at any given opportunity. Western capitalism is rooted in this theory; the structure of the economic system is based on it. As such, leaders born into this system are more inclined to lead through fear. [43:16]

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    About Marcel Schwantes

    Marcel Schwantes is the founder and chief human officer of Leadership from the Core, a global leadership training and executive coaching boutique aimed at developing great leaders and great cultures through Servant Leadership.

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