Training ourselves to be kind and compassionate

While I’m on brain research, here’s another link.  Science News reports on a new research study showing that compassion and kindness can be learned (here). 

[P]eople can develop skills that promote happiness and compassion. “People are not just stuck at their respective set points,” [a study co-author] says. “We can take advantage of our brain’s plasticity and train it to enhance these qualities.”

This topic may seem strange for a leadership-oriented blog, but empathy w/r/t others’ mental states is a trait I have to work hard at.    I know it is an important skill.  I’ve seen its power via several managers who were excellent at picking up on when I was down, needed a compliment (see here), giving bad news with dignity and honor, etc.  

Wishing that all find their happiness — and taking a moment to ask for guidance on how I may best be useful and helpful — is the best way I’ve found to prepare to do the most difficult parts of my role as a leader.

Earlier last week, someone brighter and wiser than me had pointed out that the Buddhists call this virtue or state-of-mind metta (see here), which is almost certainly one part of the mediations referenced in the study (metta = loving-kindness, karuna = compassion).

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3 Responses

  1. real people at posting their problems looking for smart advise:
    I have been working third shift at my job. It is really hard. Since i go to school as well i find it extremely difficult to study because i am tired. I talk to my boss about getting transferred to another shift. He didn’t refuse but gave the position to another person with lower qualification than me. I believe the reason was that it is hard to find third shift workers, but i don’t think it is my fault. I want to deal with this problem in a smart way because i don’t want to make it personal and have my boss hate me. Other people have done that and ended up getting fired. what should i do?

    http://mypeopleskills.wordpress.com/2008/04/27/my-boss-doesnt-want-to-transfer-me/

  2. […] sapped wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptWhile I’m on brain research, here’s another link. Science News reports on a new research study showing that compassion and kindness can be learned (here). [P]eople can develop skills that promote happiness and compassion. … […]

  3. Hi Blasio,
    Sorry to hear about this issue…it must be frustrating to have this happen. I can empathize with the 3rd shift and school — very hard stuff.

    I don’t know how smart the advice is. I’m often wrong, but never in doubt :-) Two comments:

    1.) If your boss is truly more interested in promoting/punishing for reasons that have nothing to do with the job, the problem is more about him than you. I’ve always found it easier to deal with such people by remembering they’re probably sick and suffering themselves — it reduces my frustration when I try to remember others have their own demons.

    2.) You noted you were going to school. Is that the greater good you’re going after? If so, it would be good to remember that you’re trying to transcend your current job. Don’t invest too much emotionally in a position/promotion someplace you’re trying to get out of. This worry and angst only amplifies the wear-and-tear of working and school.

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