40 seconds. A cure for burnout and a benefit to business.

Compassion. The desire to take action to alleviate the suffering of others. It’s touchy-feely. It’s what charities and religious institutions do, but it’s too “unicorns and rainbows” for the business world. But is it?

Can compassion make a difference in the business world? Can compassion help businesses do better and reach greater success? According to research, yes.

Evidence from the medical industry has revealed that compassion shown to patients reduces pain, improves healing, lowers blood pressure, and helps alleviate depression and anxiety. If it can do that for patients, it follows that it can do similar positive things for customers. That’s got to be good for business.

But there’s more.

We all know that many employees get to a point where they feel the agony of burnout. They get tired of the work they do day in and day out. They feel they are spinning their wheels and not accomplishing much. They find their patience lacking, their tempers short, and life less joyful. It decreases productivity, innovation, and morale, and hurts workplaces, customer spaces, and business overall.

Can compassion help here, too?

Again, according to research, yes.

Dr. Stephen Trzeciak, a specialist in intensive care, chief of medicine at Cooper University Health Care in Camden, N.J., and compassion researcher, says, “We’ve always heard that burnout crushes compassion. It’s probably more likely that those people with low compassion, those are the ones that are predisposed to burnout. Human connection — and specifically a compassionate connection — can actually build resilience and resistance to burnout.”

There is a lot more weight to this statement than meets the eye because it did not just come out of a bunch of scientific studies, Trzeciak found it in personal experience as well. When he found that he was in the throes of burnout himself, he decided to test what he had seen in data and see how compassion might impact his condition. Instead of going on vacation or leaving the medical field, he decided to get more involved in his work by interacting more and showing more concern rather than less. The results were astounding. He found the “fog” of emotional and mental exhaustion lift. He found his energy return and his interest in the work renewed. Compassion had made all the difference.

So, how can we do it? How do we show more compassion and better our work with customers and each other?

Well, it isn’t that hard. One medical study shows that when patients receive a message of empathy, kindness, and support that lasts just 40 seconds, their anxiety is measurably reduced. 40 seconds. That’s it. Smile, be kind, and encourage someone else. I know I can manage that and I think you can, too. Just think of the benefits. If it can help heal patients, think how it might heal and energize your fellow teammates, your customers, and you.

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