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The Compassionate Supervisor... What do they know that you don't know?

Compassion means embracing our problems to help fix them instead of pushing them away with anger, ridicule and punishment. Compassion is driving change for the better. It is improving our existence through improving our lives, our attitudes and our general state of being.


Compassion as a supervisor comes when we have empathy for whatever our staff member is going through. It could be internal or external. We may not know the exact details but we are aware of an issue that is affecting performance.If we are not in touch with each of our staff members frequently enough we cannot be compassionate. If we have not built a working relationship with each member of our staff and coached them through their challenges we cannot experience a level of trust from them that we need to be compassionate. Here are two examples of using compassion in other walks of life. This analogy goes much deeper than just saying good morning and asking for updates on assigned tasks This is what true compassion is all about.


Compassion for addiction and addicts through offering prevention through harm reduction centers and free injection sites is saving addicts and reducing dependency and death from overdoses. It is providing stability and providing ways for us to cope and help those that struggle. Every $1 spent on harm reduction saves up to $7 on medical costs and steers addicts towards treatment. For every $1 spent for treating addicts in a harm reduction center a comparative $7 is spent for medical care for those addicts, according to medical science. The harm reduction centers offer counseling and clean needles to avoid HIV and other related health issues. The losses from not using this knowledge is costing our economy over half a trillion dollars per year. Neglecting, stigmatizing, and criminalizing addiction is aggravating the problem. Excessive drinking of alcohol is costing our country 80,000 deaths a year. Smoking is responsible for over 400,000 deaths. It is increasing costs of medical care every year it continues. Compassion is the answer. Throwing “the book” at the problem and locking the addicts up to clean them up does nothing except create a bigger mess.


Compassion for prisoners in lockdown is a similar situation in which our society is spending a fortune housing and caring for prisoners. If we were using compassion to rehabilitate those prisoners we could save a majority of what is being spent on our prison systems. Those familiar with the Marshall Project know that prisons in Germany and/or Norway treat their prisoners as humanely as possible in an attempt to rehabilitate them. Correctional officers are more like therapists than guards,for all but the worst cases, which works positively to help prisoners understand underlying reasons for behavior that landed them in prison. They are compassionately provided mental health counseling so the corrections system provides a safer society when returning the prisoner to that society. It is the opposite of the current purpose of our prisons which is to remove those same individuals from our society to keep our society safe. Most of them return back into society worse than when they went in. Nothing is being done to rehabilitate them, in fact, the opposite is happening. Compassion, again, is the answer.


For us not to realize what these situations are telling us is simple blindness to the psychology of making things work in our society. For us not to do something about it is simply lack of action. This is an actionable cause which goes way beyond just improving performance at work. It can improve the whole reason people come to work and give their time willingly to causes that are greater than themselves. Imagine that all your staff members are volunteers. How would you keep them coming to work and being happy to do so. We have to apply the compassion action at work. Compassion is the answer!

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