Create a compassionate workplace

Forming strong bonds with other people is good for our creativity, resilience and longevity. A lot of people find it difficult to form these types of bonds at work, even though it can help you be a more productive, engaged employee. Compassion in the workplace can help you form stronger personal bonds with your colleagues. Keep these tips in mind:

Notice when people are in pain. People will often hide or downplay their emotional pain at work. Watch for signs in your colleagues and make yourself available to listen when someone needs an ear or a friendly face. With time you’ll become better at picking up on what’s going on with others.

Learn to ask how people are doing. Go beyond the simple greetings of “How are you?” If you notice someone is suffering, ask them if they’re OK in a sincere and comfortable way. If you don’t feel like you can ask them directly, speak with people who have a closer relationship to them. You can express your concern and have it passed along by their friends.

Use your empathy. If someone is struggling with something that you’ve experienced, you’re in a special position to be of extra help. If you haven’t been through a similar experience, you can still motivate yourself to provide them with support by tapping into your empathy for that person and your desire for them to be happy.

Get creative. When something bad happens to a colleague, you’ll likely offer condolences, send a card or ask what you can do to help. These are good things to do, but you can also be more proactive. Take over some of your co-worker’s duties, organize a fundraiser or brainstorm ideas for support with your other colleagues.

— Adapted from “Forming Stronger Bonds with People at Work,” Monica Worline, Jane Dutton and Ashley Hardin, Harvard Business Review.