Compassion is key during coronavirus crisis, researchers tell Harvard Business Review

April 13, 2020

Center for Positive Organizations (CPO) faculty affiliate Monica Worline and CPO Research Advisory Board member Brianna Caza share tips for how to navigate workplace relationships during the coronavirus crisis in the Harvard Business Review article, “What Your Coworkers Need Right Now Is Compassion.”

The article notes that although many workers are on edge as they struggle to adjust to life during a pandemic, kindness and caring are more important than ever.

“When we’re under severe stress, we go back to coping patterns that are familiar and very hardened in us, and we have a hard time seeing that there’s any other way to do what we’re doing. We think we’re right and others are wrong,” Worline says. “We unwittingly break our relationships with coworkers, causing more suffering.”

Instead, she and Caza suggest workers strive to practice compassion. They suggest the following strategies:

  • View this as an opportunity to connect
  • Accept differences in coping approaches, circumstances
  • Be generous in your interpretations of others
  • Express how you’re feeling
  • Recognize your co-workers’ lives are relevant to you
  • Don’t compare suffering

Remember, Worline says: “People are essentially good and they’re trying to do their best.”

Worline is a CPO Magnify Immersion Program instructor and co-authored Awakening Compassion at Work: The Quiet Power That Elevates People and Organizations with CPO co-founder and core faculty Jane Dutton.

Caza is the Richard Morantz and Sheree Walder Morantz Associate Professor of Business Ethics at the University of Manitoba.