Empathy is our feeling of awareness toward other people’s emotions and an attempt to understand how they feel. Compassion is an emotional response to empathy or sympathy and creates a desire to help. So, compassion turns empathy into action.

One way to cultivate compassion within your team is to embed a ritual into your regular team meetings. Start each meeting with a quick “High/Low” around the group. Some of our clients call this ritual “Peaks and Pits.” The team leader starts by stating one “High” (positive experience) and one “Low” (negative experience) since the last meeting

The Highs and Lows can be either personal or work-related. Each person in the group does the same around the table. No long monologues here; set the example by being concise. For instance, a leader’s High might be that her daughter just won a piano competition, and a Low might be that a key player decided to leave the company. A team member’s High could be that he hit last week’s deadline and was under his expense budget, while the Low could be that his father was just diagnosed with cancer.

Since our clients started using this ritual, they have found it to be a valuable window into the world of their teams. It creates real-time opportunities to support team members who need help (like lending resources to get a project back on track or having dinner sent home during trying times). 

It also enables the leader to recognize them for positive contributions (such as the time they spent over the weekend serving the needy or going the extra mile to recover a customer who had left). The initial client who used this High/Low ritual to help his team gel kept it as a permanent part of his meetings because he found it to be a valuable process to build mutual compassion within his team. 

We hope this powerful ritual does the same for you!

Watch for our new book, Healthy Leadership: How to Lead so Everyone Thrives.