Advance Performance | The Power Of Self-Compassion For Your Professional Self
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The Power Of Self-Compassion For Your Professional Self

The Power Of Self-Compassion For Your Professional Self

The term Self Care or Self Compassion has become a trend on social media and in self help media.  What does the term Self-Compassion mean, and how does it benefit us professionally?

In her excellent introduction to Self-Compassion, Dr Kristin Neff explains that having compassion is essentially being aware of the person’s situation and feelings so that we are able to respond emotionally to their pain by showing understanding and kindness. As she says, we should be showing this empathy towards ourselves when we make a mistake or believe we have failed just as we would care for another person.

Neff says a person who has high self-compassion:

  • perceives their own failings and weaknesses less judgmentally
  • recognises individual failures are a shared human experience
  • have a more balanced view when they believe they have failed or had a setback. They learn from the experience and move forward.

How can this help you professionally?

Serena Chen, a psychology professor from Berkeley, discusses the recent research  in the Harvard Business Review* which she and her colleagues have been carrying out on the effects and benefits of self-compassion on professional growth.

Their results include:

  • An improved growth mindset – participants who were less self judgemental and were part of a shared experience of failure were more motivated and positive to face further challenges. Having a self-compassionate mindset can help you learn and build those dendrites!
  • Feeling and behaving authentically – participants who were kind to themselves on achievements and their perceived failures made more satisfactory choices by their values. .
  • Boosted individual’s relationships with others – Chen says “Being kind and nonjudgmental toward the self is also good practice for treating others compassionately.”.
  • More Self Belief – they also showed less self doubt and negative thoughts than individuals who were not self-compassionate.
So, basically, by thinking and behaving with compassion to yourself – not being so harsh on your own actions – enables you to be your best self both personally and professionally! 
Chen’s team also found that having a self-compassionate mindset has also proved to be beneficial to leaders. Their behaviour filters through to their team members, strengthening their relationships, and creating a more authentic non-judgemental culture in the workplace as a whole.

Self-compassionate leaders were also more likely to notice changes in their team members’ performances, and provide more constructive feedback to improve the recipient to be motivated and determined to improve. Therefore, again, the growth mindset filters through from the leader to influence the thinking and behaviour of their team.

By taking care of your own mental health first, you can positively influence the mental health of your whole team!

To summarise, Chen’s team have examined the positive results of having a self-compassionate mindset within the workplace showing the benefits of:
  • Improved relationships
  • An increased Growth Mindset
  • More Authenticity
  • Positive Self Belief
  • Improved Leadership Skills
The next time you have a setback at work and begin to berate yourself, take a deep breath and be kind to to yourself, accept your flaws are a part of the human experience, and plan how you can be your better self.
*This is a report on the article Give Yourself A Break: The Power of Self-Compassion by Serena Chen from Harvard Business Review Sept-Oct 2018 edition
Serena Chen is a professor of psychology and the Marian E. and Daniel E. Koshland Jr. Distinguished Chair for Innovative Teaching and Research at the University of California, Berkeley.