Lara Patangan offers a host of suggestions for sharing compassion and practicing mercy in the workplace.
It’s been a long time since I have worked in the traditional workforce. So long that I actually remember wearing pantyhose to work. Every morning I would concentrate on inching the copper-colored nylon ever so carefully up my legs so that I didn’t risk an unsightly run.
Add in all of the other necessary morning minutia along with a frustrating commute, and just getting to work felt like work. Spending 40 plus hours a week at a job becomes a significant part of life. Recognizing that we are more than our jobs and carry hardships from home and hurts in our heart, practicing mercy in the workplace becomes an opportunity to share our compassion—and our faith in a meaningful way.
Based on the seven Corporal Works of Mercy, here are some practical ways that you can practice mercy in the workplace.
Feed the Hungry
Sharing a meal or a treat with someone is a social experience. It bonds us, allowing us to open up, get to know each other, and understand better what someone else is going through which automatically makes us more compassionate. Invite someone to lunch; pick up a treat on the way to work; or make something special to share. Calories don’t count when we are being compassionate.
Give Drink to the Thirsty
It seems like no matter how long we’ve been out of high school, there are still those who don’t ever seem to fit in. And I can tell you they are some of the coolest people you will ever meet. Be inclusive! Ask someone to happy hour or coffee. It’s not just sharing commonalities that make us compassionate, but understanding our differences too.
Clothe the Naked
I just keep thinking about the trauma of pantyhose. But I guess that’s just it: we all have things that have scarred us. Little hurts and humiliations, or even genuine traumas that we try to cover up with a carefully curated façade. Instead, we can cover others with the dignity of the unconditional love of God. Accept that we don’t know what crosses our neighbor is carrying, and carry on with compassion in all circumstances. It’s a beautiful thing to wear.
Shelter the Homeless
Feeling ostracized at work or insecure about your performance or your future is, to a lesser degree, how the homeless often feel. Create a shelter from the toxicity of office gossip and cut-throat competition. When you encounter this kind of behavior, walk away, change the subject, or counter with kindness. Encourage coworkers by recognizing their efforts, strengths, and contributions. Be gentle when other people make mistakes.
Comfort the Sick
Pick up the slack for a sick coworker. Do what you can to help them get caught up when they return to the office. Take them a meal. Call and ask if there is anything urgent you can handle for them.
Visit the Imprisoned
We’ve all had days where work can feel like a prison. Do what you can to bring positive energy into the office. Celebrate birthdays, holidays, and office milestones. Take time to smile, say hello, and ask about others.
Bury the Dead
Inevitably when we spend so much time with others, we will say or do something offensive or hurtful, or something hurtful will be done to us. Make amends. Bury old grudges. Accept that we are flawed, have our own unique strengths and weaknesses, and that most of us genuinely mean well. Forgive and allow others the mercy of a do-over.
Our workplaces don’t have to be cold, sterile, places of productivity. We are people first. Acknowledge the humanity of your neighbor by practicing mercy. Maybe it’s something we will never be able to quantify or measure on a spreadsheet, but mercy works and can make our workplaces better. Unlike putting on pantyhose, it’s easier than you think.
Copyright 2022 Lara Patangan
This article was originally published at CatholicWomenInBusiness.org.
About the Author
Lara Patangan is a freelance writer and inspirational speaker. A wife and mother of two boys, Patangan spent a year doing works of mercy. She writes about the life-changing power of mercy at LaraPatangan.com in a way that is humorous, relatable, and rife with humility. Her book, SimpleMercies: How the Works of Mercy Bring Peace and Fulfillment, is available for purchase wherever books are sold.