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Why does self-compassion in the workplace matter?

5th September 2017

The core elements of self-compassion

Why self-compassion matters – what the research tells us!

My own research with executive coaches, and my experience in mentoring the ‘champions’, is that they demonstrate ease with extending compassion to others. However, when it comes to extending compassion to themselves then this is tough. Quite simply calming the inner critic is no easy matter. 


Core elements of self-compassion[1] – At the heart of the eq-map


Why does this matter?  At the annual CIPD conference members were told that “£ 27 billion of organisational revenue is lost due to mental ill health in the workplace, through sickness absence related to anxiety, stress and depression alone.”



The need for compassionate workplaces

Compassionate workplaces are created through compassionate leaders and EQ-MAPs have a key role in facilitating and supporting compassionate leaders and system-wide, compassionate organisational practices.   Our ability to employ our embodied emotional intelligence; to notice, feel and act, particularly in times of real difficulty, demands that we need to… S T O P – take a breath; notice our thoughts and feelings and engage in self-compassion. This means,


  •          Understanding that we are caught in the flow of life – we are the product of evolution and shaped by the social context (VUCA)
  •          Acknowledging that we are doing the best we can
  •          Applying what we are learning from neuroscience about what our minds do … with all the limitations and possibilities
  •          Knowing that our ‘tricky brain’ has evolved to help protect us and that our emotions are there to guide us - they are signals to action
  •          Realising that neuroplasticity allows for the development of a mindful brain, which takes time, persistence and above all, practice
  •          Recognising that to escape from the ‘prison of busyness’ we need to S T O P
  •          Taking a breathing space, calms the amygdala hijacking; evokes the soothing affect system and helps us to gain focus; to respond, not react
  •          Appreciating that in developing our capacity for self-compassion and compassionate workplaces,  begins by taking the first step, developing mindfulness

Margaret is a chartered and registered psychologist, Chartered Scientist and Chartered Fellow of the CIPD. She is author of Mindfulness in the Workplace: An evidence-based approach to improving wellbeing and maximising performance. You can contact her at mc@eicoaching.co.uk


[1] For more information about Kristin Neff’s work and resources to support your curiosity around developing self-compassion, including definitions of her three elements, go to: http://self-compassion.org/the-three-elements-of-self-compassion-2/


About the author: Margret Chapman-Clark is an occupational psychologist, applied researcher and author of Mindfulness in the Workplace. The author also servs on the editorial board of two coaching journals and has served on the Board of Trustees of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. A former Senior Fellow in Leadership at Machester, Maragret has over 20 years of experience as a former Head of Human Resources, consultant in executive, team and organizational development.

Exclusive offer: Use code BHRMIW20 to save 20% on Mindfulness in the Workplace. Enter code when prompted at checkout. 

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