By TONY BELAK and J-R CURTIN
The 4Civility Institute for conflict resolution and workplace responsibility and dignity is being established at the University of Louisville, in cooperation with Spalding University and Simmons College to better understand conflict and negative behaviors that threaten the health and well-being of students, employees, organizations and institutions. The number 4 in the name refers to the Four Pillars of the Institute: Knowledge; Reporting; Correcting; and Advocating.
Unsatisfactory bottom-line performance arises due to customer dissatisfaction as a result of substandard quality, high costs and large cycle times. All of these problems manifest themselves as defects in products and services. Companies worldwide have been under the mistaken notion that defects arise for only two reasons: (1) the processes and transactions which produce them are not put together well, and (2) the processes and transactions are not operated in the best possible manner. Actually, there is a third factor which is also responsible for defects, and it is the inadequate level of consciousness of individuals who compose the corporation and the corporate level of consciousness – compassion (Deshpande, 2013a).
Corporate compassion is generated by the mind but focused outward and manifests in generosity directed toward others. There is an emerging understanding by neuroscientists that emotions are not separate from reason and that emotions often enhance reasoning abilities rather than detract from them. “There is strong evidence that higher levels of consciousness, which necessarily equate to higher levels of compassion, reduce defect levels in products and services even where six sigma programs are not in place. It follows therefore that compassion will boost the performance of six sigma programs. The link of compassion to performance presents a huge opportunity for all organizations to improve performance at all levels. That is provided the rational mind can be convinced about the scientific basis of the effort. I have developed a scientific framework to do just that (Deshpande, 2013b).”
Among its other activities, the 4Civility Institute will host from time to time Deshpande’s workshops on how to transform ourselves and our businesses. The transformational framework consists of two components: Excellence of the external that teaches how to do our best in all that is done daily, including at work, in the best possible manner and excellence of the internal, which involves raising our level of consciousness permitting us to remain serene in the midst of the most adverse ever-changing external conditions that are part of life. Excellence of the external is realized through six sigma, while excellence of the internal to raise the level of consciousness may be realized with meditation. It is important to take a note of the accumulating evidence that other-centeredness and interconnectedness are central aspects of humanity.
A number of prestigious scientific and medical journals have carried full-length articles on meditation. Meditation is far more powerful than just a means to improve health. It is a pathway to individual, organizational, national, and global transformation and peace. Deshpande’s scientific framework for world transformation is intended to convince corporate leaders and stakeholders the merit of this assertion.
Studies on the value of meditation are not limited to science journals alone. A recent Huffington Post article said, “In addition to creating social, cultural, intellectual, physical, ecological, emotional and spiritual value for all stakeholders, conscious businesses excel at delivering exceptional financial performance over the long term. For example, a representative sample of conscious firms outperformed the overall stock market by a ratio of 10.5: 1 over a 15-year period, delivering more than 1,600 percent total returns when the market was up just over 150 percent for the same period.
Or, as Mackey and Sisodia put it: Conscious businesses win, but they do so in a way that is far richer and more multifaceted than the traditional definition of winning. More and more businesses recognize that the traditional definition is no longer working, even for the “winners. As a result, a quarter of large American employers have introduced some sort of stress management program. At one of those, General Mills, over 80 percent of executives who attended a seven-week meditation course reported that they felt an increased ability to make better decisions”.
A renowned professor of medicine, Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., Harvard, claims that lifestyle changes are better than drugs or therapy for treatment of multiple psychopathologies for fostering social and individual well-being and for improved cognitive functioning. Dr. DePaulo recommends that exercise, nutrition and diet, recreation, relationships, relaxation and stress management, service to others, spiritual or religious involvement, and time in nature are nearly as effective as psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy. If these activities make us happy what is common to several of these life styles and how might we go about taking the first steps to a better life? The answer is to learn to be more compassionate.
Compassion is a virtue of empathy for the suffering of others and is regarded as a fundamental part of human love and a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism – foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood. Compassion is ranked a great virtue in numerous philosophies and is considered in almost all major religious traditions as among the greatest of virtues. What we know as the Golden Rule…” Do unto others as you would have done unto you”…should be changed into the Platinum Rule…” Do unto others as they would have done unto them”…in order for compassion to be more fully realized.
Compassion can be demonstrated through improved listening. To listen is also to communicate and there are two emotional factors that affect most conversations…
(1) How you feel about the other person’s ideas
(2) What you believe the other person feels about your ideas
Once you understand the role emotions play in communications you will be able to place yourself in the other person’s shoes. Empathetic communication links people and performance and forms the basis for common action, generates power to leverage communication to targeted goals, and gives relationships their foundation to empower rewarding and positive exchanges. American workers lack communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creative skills according to a recent survey by the American Management Association.
The number of executives rating their employees as below average increased across all four areas since the survey was last taken in 2010. Almost 20 percent of workers lack at least average creative skills according to executives.
To be a successful team member, friend, spouse, and human being you must possess great empathy and sensitivity to the needs and wants of others. The secret to empathy is understanding and caring. You must be able to communicate in both words and actions that you are interested in them as individuals and they need to know that you appreciate their efforts and that their accomplishments are recognized. Healthy relationships are built on recognition, communication, trust, and compassion, perhaps the greatest of virtues.
Corporate kindness has always been the exception but in the past few years dozens of America’s largest brands are embracing socially kind deeds in compassion as an unusually effective means to market themselves to consumers, employees, and even stockholders. Some are listening to their hearts while others are attuned to social media chatter and creating consumable spin. Nevertheless, there is one audience that is watching closely…Millennials. This trend-setting class of about 95 million people born between 1982 and 2004 live and breathe social media and are broadly convinced that doing the right thing is mandatory. Corporations should be aware of the social mores of their customers, and compassion is a rapidly growing influence in the workplace and in personal and professional interactions.
This is a challenging time for schools, businesses, organizations or any affiliation or association of people who must work together in a productive and goal oriented manner. Regulations, laws, and policies create shifting sands and often a storm of protest in the modern workplace, where we feel disoriented because our foundation of standards and the old ways of conducting ourselves has crumbled. There is no solid ground some days due to external forces that impact the corporate culture, and that stress can replicate itself internally affecting relationships, communication, and productivity.
The global workplace is increasingly suffering profound, chronic, and pervasive instances of betrayal and many have come to expect situations and relationships characterized more by deceit than trust. Communication is not merely talking and waiting to talk but requires a solid effort of interchange, but most people employ words to hide meaning rather than reveal it.
Genuine listening ability is one of the few true forms of competitive advantage and is not something that comes naturally. Managing conflict requires a high level of skill in the collaborative arts and appropriately designed training and educational programs are an essential first step coupled with a dedication to promoting the excellence of the external as well as the excellence of the internal.
The 4Civility Institute provides ombuds training, mediation certification, and ombuds services as well as best-practices skill sets, reporting tools and training in techniques to deal constructively with conflict, to improve and build proper relationships and to inspire to personal and professional fulfillment. The 4Civility Institute mission is to provide for the study of and training in conflict management and in training and services to prevent and address toxic relationships, bullying, harassment, fraud and other negative behaviors and to encourage positive constructive relationships in schools, workplaces or other institutions. The 4Civility Institute believes that conflict is normal and can be positive if dealt with correctly and that bullying, harassment and violence are learned behaviors that can be prevented, corrected and reversed with appropriate tools and skills to attain a higher level of consciousness, success, and profitability.