Compassion is about having the courage to learn to understand others’ feelings, whether you agree with those feelings or not. Feelings are simple emotional reactions to a real physical situation that tell us when something probably deserves a second, closer look. They tell us there might be a problem and that we should begin a thinking and decision-making process. It is important to understand others’ feelings in order to be able to recognize opportunities to work together better, to reduce suffering.
Compassion is caring for and wanting to help those who are suffering (Batson, 1991; Eisenberg, Fabes, & Spinrad, 2006; Goetz, Keltner, & Simon-Thomas, 2010), and it fosters altruistic acts that increase the survival chances of our species (Darwin, 2004; Goetz et al., 2010; Sober et al., 1999); as well as improves our own individual chances of health, happiness and well-being (Fredrickson, Cohn, Coffey, Pek, & Finkel, 2008; Hutcherson, Seppala, & Gross, 2008; Pace et al., 2009).
Research has found that when leaders demonstrate compassion at work, employees engage in more organizational citizenship behaviors (helping and protecting the organization’s well-being and reputation on their own initiative). They exhibit more commitment to their jobs and the organization (Vianello, Galliani, & Haidt, 2010). In the case of Healthcare and service organizations, compassion directly impacts the bottom line by enabling the recruitment of more capable staff without increase salary offers and reducing the costs associated with patient stays.
Even more suprisingly, 18 publicly traded for-profit businesses practicing compassionate business out-performed a comparative sample of 10 more traditional businesses on the S&P 500 index by 10.5 times over ten years (Sisodia, Wolfe, & Sheth, 2003).
Compassion at Minerva
That is why we, at Minerva, believe that being known for your compassion as a professional, as a team, and as an organization is the best cause for celebrity and the best way to build a sustainable and competitive differentiator for businesses. Doing this well enough to recognize bottom-line benefits requires applying psychological science to build compassionate hiring, training, communication, leadership, and development programs within organizations. That is why Minerva is so dedicated to helping all organizations and professionals access psychological science. Compassion is also part of why Minerva was founded and continues to operate as a social entrepreneurship enterprise—“employing market-based methods to solve social problems” (Afuah & Tucci, 2012). We dedicate 30% of our work time pro bono to helping non-profit and charities make work more meaningful. We believe understanding how you feel about your work enables us to provide you with the right psychological tools to make work more meaningful for everyone, and that doing so creates a better world for us all.