On Life and Love

Compassion in the Workplace

I’m dealing with some really shitty stuff right now. Can’t talk about it, but my week has been–despite some beautiful bright spots–pretty fucking lousy.

‘Sokay. We’re dealing.

In struggling to remain open to my own emotions and those of people around me, I found myself indirectly barraged this morning. Breakfast with my coworkers led to one of them going into this diatribe about another colleague that wasn’t there.

It wasn’t the usual, “Oh, guess what so-and-so said in a meeting?” It was a harsh, personal attack, full of diagnoses of immaturity/stupidity/ignorance, analyses of personal business that wasn’t for us to know, and a one-upping on pain. A “my pain’s worse than her pain” type of thing.

I tried to gently explain that we can’t know what this woman has suffered in the past, that she’s making her own choices, and that her pain is very real and valid, undiminished by comparisons. My coworker was having none of it, and went on to speak on how if someone puts their “stupidity” out there, they get to be judged on it, and how she has “no compassion” for stupidity.

I tried to listen and hear her frustration at having her advice ignored, and I appreciated one of our other coworkers trying to soften and reframe the discussion, but my alternative to rupturing at the seams was to stare out the window and let the words pass over me until the conversation transitioned.

I have a hard time keeping an open ear (or heart!) to her. Part of me says, garbage in, garbage out: the more of her vitriol I hear, the more likely I am to spew that myself. The rest of me says that she has a need to be (truly) heard, and I’m available to do it.

I’m not sure which part (if either) will win.