It’s the month of love and romance, friendships and partnerships, roses and candy. And can I just throw in a new idea? How about we add a little compassion in there, too? Compassion is empathy and concern for the suffering or misfortunes of others. And it’s a great way to show a little love in February.  

But before you check the box and say, “Yep, I’ ‘m a pretty compassionate human,” and move on, take a moment. Compassion is a two-sided coin. And on the other side? It’s self-compassion. That one may hit a little harder. I get it. Compassion facing outward and facing inward is especially important for people in sales, which is, well, everyone. 

Self-compassion is tough 

You know the Ph.D. in me loves some data and research, so brace yourself. Researchers at Berkeley found that most people tended to feel more compassion for others than they do for themselves. Yet, on average, self-compassionate people had fewer depressive symptoms, less negative emotion, more positive emotion, and maybe, most importantly, resilience. (Who couldn’t use a little resilience right now?) 

Psychologists suggest this is due to the difficult relationship you have with yourself. I have a friend who recently needed to take time for herself and her family. There is a lot of big stuff going on in her life, and her work and relationships were feeling the strain. She struggled with her decision to create space for self-compassion a great deal. This caused her even more anxiety than she was feeling about her personal life! Why? Old residual feelings of shame, judgment, and being self-critical. She doesn’t hesitate when a friend or a colleague needs some compassion. But turning it on herself was a different matter altogether.  

I talk a lot about self-worth in my blogs. There’s a reason for that: Low self-esteem or self-worth can often send the very wrong message that you don’t deserve to be self-compassionate. That you haven’t earned it. You know what that is? Sales. You haven’t sold yourself on being self-compassionate. How is that a reflection of your personal brand 

An Exercise in Compassion

My friend has a note hanging on the wall of her office. “Golden Rule: Treat yourself the way you would treat others.” I asked her what inspired this. She told me about a session with her therapist when she was opening up about her self-doubt and perceived failures. Her therapist said, “If anyone ever spoke to you the way you speak to yourself, you’d never speak to them again.”  

Here is a great exercise to experience self-compassion:  

Picture a loved one telling you about an emotional struggle or ordeal. The same techniques we use in sales and personal branding of body language, tone, offering help… it’s all important.  

  • What would you say to them?  
  • How would you say it?  
  • What would your facial expression be?  
  • What would you do to help them feel better?  
  • How might they feel if you said and did all those things?  

Those are all compassionate thoughts, feelings, and actions. Here comes the hard part. Now, direct that toward yourself. Literally. If you would hug them, hug yourself. If you would cry with them, the cry for yourself. It’s ok. Don’t let that resistance from your critical mind sneak in. And keep practicing.  

Compassion for others 

One of the tiniest ways to show compassion is to take the time to notice how other people are feeling. Period. One sentence! How easy is that, right? It’s not. It takes practice. We tend to be on-the-go people. Life gets frantic. There are so many things competing for our attention. It’s easy to walk right past someone who could really benefit from a minute of your time. Here is my advice: Be interruptible. Let the to-do list wait and focus on what is in front of you. 

Next, listen. Do you really take the time to hear someone? Beyond their words – into their heart. Not thinking about how you will respond or whether or not you agree, but just listening. The art of truly listening seems to be fading in our fast-paced world. Be someone who slows it down enough to care. Give your whole attention.  

Often, it’s the little things. Smile at a co-worker and ask about their day. Pick up the phone and call someone who you know would appreciate a pick-me-up, take someone a coffee – and put your phone away. Little things can be big things for others. 

Compassion, like it or not, also means sacrifice. Give your seat to someone who is standing. Offer to babysit for a friend or volunteer your time with charity. Look for opportunities to give up something for someone else. Ask yourself, “What can I do for others today?”  

Are you seeing a theme? That’s right; this looks a lot like the steps of a sales process: Plan to show compassion, look for an opportunity, truly listen to establish trust, and follow up with them. 

Two-sided compassion coin 

Your internal dialogue plays just as big of a role in shaping your personal brand as your external dialogue. Is your personal brand askew? How is aligning with your actions AND your thoughts?  

Compassion isn’t just for medical professionals, first responders and therapists. It’s for business professionals, leaders, and frontline staff. In 2020, I wrote a blog about selling with sensitivity. It was written during a much different time, but it remains a popular blog. Its message still resonates. This February, redefine your expression of love. Beyond the traditional, let compassion be the guide this time. After all, how can you be truly good to others if you aren’t good to yourself first?