“Have you ever felt as though everyone around you at work was laughing at you?” a new client asked. I thoughtfully scratched my chin and asked him to explain in greater detail. He explained that he was often criticized for caring too much, and for weighing decisions too much.
“You mean you’re compassionate?” I asked.
He breathed a sigh of relief. He told me that was exactly the word he was looking for “compassionate.” When he made decisions, he always tried to see both sides of the issue. He weighed and reflected, often bringing people together and telling them how much they were valued.
He was mocked for his compassion.I must admit that it wasn’t the typical kind of coaching problem I’ve encountered at VIM Executive Coaching. In fact, we encourage people to be more responsive and less reactive; we like people who are not afraid to show compassion; we applaud those who seek to a situation rather than inflame it.
Be Gentle on Yourself
Occasionally, we are quite lucky. We go to work for an organization and by luck or chance or good graces, some of our co-workers also become our best friends. It is a treasure when something like that occurs, but it is rare. Typically, we may start out liking a co-worker, maybe introduce that co-worker and/or partner to our partner or spouse, and then over time see the situation deteriorate. It may not be an acerbic breakup but may just be a cooling off or a drifting away. It is not necessarily the end of the world, just a realization that co-workers are not necessarily best friends. In other cases, co-workers become ex-friends following a disagreement. Sometimes the breakup is bitter and painful.
The point is that our co-workers are often like our neighbors. When we move into a building or to a new house, we pretty much take what we get. Some neighbors are great, some are dripping with gossip and meanness and others just keep to themselves. Only very rarely do best friends join the same company, advance together, nurture and support each other.
In the workplace we want to maintain our professionalism, our effectiveness and our concern for the welfare of the organization. However, there is no guarantee that our fellow employees will be positively disposed towards us or will even wish us well. There is also no guarantee of reciprocation. This is where it is important to be gentle on ourselves.
An executive who is mindful and authentic. An executive who is compassionate and responsive to the needs of others may not be universally loved or even respected, but he or she will be in the right. This is especially important in situations where he or she has carefully weighed a situation and where others have simply reacted and/or even mock the executive for his or her compassion.
Mean-spirited co-workers, gossiping or even angry co-workers, no matter their level or status within an organization, much like a mean neighbor, should not make you feel bad about yourself. If you are reflective, authentic and aware (in its truest sense) in your decision making then any negativity directed toward you for being mindful is without merit.
We cannot always control the thoughts of those around us (in fact, we rarely can), but in being honorable in our decision making, no matter how we are perceived, we are still on the right path. There are no guarantees of course, we may be authentic and well respected in an organization and be ostracized or “mocked.” It is easily to laugh at another person’s authenticity.
My role as an executive coach at VIM Executive Coaching was to offer support and to bolster the beautiful, innate and thoughtful nature of the client. In the months I coached him, he found a wonderful new position with a terrific company. They recognized his authenticity as a person. His old company is still in business, but floundering. Rightly so, they have not been genuine with their management or with each other. My client had much to teach them.