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Nov 15

Compassion. So what?

We all know that compassion is key in strong relationships, but did you know that it’s also critical to our health?  Here’s information from study that shows that our ability to get a good night’s sleep and therefore our health are improved when we feel compassion at work.  This story is from Robert Sutton’s wonderful new book “Good Boss, Bad Boss.”  (See the tags below for additional posts on this great book.)

On page 194, Dr. Sutton shares research by Gerald Greenberg on insomnia among nurses. Greenberg’s study follows 322 nurses for 40 weeks after receiving pay cuts.  For the first 4 weeks after the pay cut the nurses reported significant issues with sleep quality–falling and staying asleep and being refreshed afterward.  Then after 4 weeks, one-half of the supervisors received training in providing interpersonal and informational support, the other half received no special training.  The trained supervisors provided not only support but also more information consisting of guidance shared in a timely fashion, tailored to the individual nurses on their teams.

Within a month, the nurses on the staffs of the trained supervisors reported a significant reduction in their sleep problems and the good results persisted for the 7 remaining months of the study.  The effects of the training also showed in employee loyalty – the staff of the trained supervisors lost fewer than half as many nurses  as the staffs of the untrained supervisors.  Recruiting and training new employees is a significant expense to an organization–in time, money and emotional distraction from the business at hand–so employee loyalty is important to the financial bottom line as well as quality patient care.

How does this relate to Open Hearted Works?  Compassion is one of the keys to an open heart.  In most cases, if one person shows a modicum of compassion the others in the relationship will begin to be open to a deeper conversation as well.  As we all know this can lead to a synergistic snowball effect that brings growth of the relationship and the psyche of everyone involved.

These nursing supervisors had special training, but is that always necessary?  Certainly not to start the compassion dance.  Just listen to your heart and be willing to risk a bit.

Note:  Insomnia is linked to severe health problems like heart disease, memory loss and depression; not to mention the issues with errors, accidents and lost productivity, so  this study is about resolving more than dark circles under one’s eyes.

About the author

Lisa Hamaker

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