How Compassion Can Transform Your Organization

compassion at work

The following is an excerpt of Elad Levinson’s interview with Leadership Development News.

It’s no secret that the “softer” personality traits aren’t as valued in organizations. Empathy, self-reflection, and goodwill take the backseat to efficiency, results, and profits. What would you say if I told you that fostering the former skills would actually improve the latter?

Jane Dutton, one of the founders of the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship and University of Michigan Roth School of Business, has been studying and researching compassion in the workplace. Her research shows that when you train in mindfulness, it has an immediate impact on the quality of your relationships with your colleagues.

Mindfulness and compassion in the workplace happens in three ways:


You take more responsibility for your own reactions to situations. Instead of being unaware of the impact you have on the people around you – whether it be the team you manage, the project you’re a part of, or even in your personal life outside of work – you begin to step back and observe. Once you are able to view yourself from a semi-objective standpoint, you will find that your actions, positive or negative, may have been really influencing outcomes.


Your listening skills will be immediately impacted. When you are mindful, you tend to be able to put aside your internal reactions to things and really listen to someone and what they are experiencing. As a result, you will improve in being able to include other people and their experiences with the problems you’re trying to solve, which will make not only you, but your team, happier and more efficient.


You just might become warmer. You become more interested in others. There is a sense of concern that the people around you might translate as, “I’m with you, not against you. I’m here for you and interested in your growth and development.”

What people like Jane Dutton and myself are trying to say is that there is room for compassion in the workplace. Work should not be a place you have to completely turn yourself off. Practicing mindfulness and compassion in the workplace can start with you; give it some time and you just might notice your colder co-workers warming up to you, and your workplace become a more enjoyable place.

thriving on change

Preview the free Introductory Module from Thriving on Change here.

Learn more about the course here.

Download Elad’s free ebook, Learn to Dance on Jello here.



Learn to Dance on Jello

learn to dance on jello

To dance on jello is to gracefully handle stress and change. This is especially key for leaders, as the ground beneath their feet is constantly – and rapidly – changing.

Learn to Dance on Jello is a free ebook adapted from a series of articles originally posted by Elad Levinson on LinkedIn. Additional material comes from Thriving on Change: The Evolving Leader’s Toolkit, a Praxis You online course by Elad Levinson and More Than Sound.

Download the free ebook here.

You’ll need to provide your email address to access the ebook. You will receive an email with download instructions. It could take a few minutes to receive your email. If you’re having trouble, contact

More about Thriving on Change

There is a growing disconnect between traditional management techniques and the unique assortment of skills required of today’s impactful leader.

How we manage ourselves informs how we lead… on every level. Stress, frustration, and burnout from an increasingly complex, ever-changing business environment can lead to poor decision-making, strained relationships, and weakened mental and physical health. These are ruinous to thriving in a competitive landscape.

Our online course, Thriving on Change, integrates the necessary proven-effective skills, tools, and practices to ensure leaders expertly respond to uncertainty, conflict, and inevitable distraction.

Unlike other leadership development courses, this program is delivered in bite-size chunks, designed to enlist all of your learning faculties. And because we all learn differently, each course offers a balance of:

  • video
  • audio
  • animation
  • self-assessments
  • discussion forums
  • downloadable practices
  • reading on your own time.

Course developer and facilitator Elad Levinson, a 45-year veteran of organizational development, has collaborated with experts in organizational psychology, leadership development, and social and cognitive science to provide first-hand experience, research findings, and practical exercises you will incorporate into your daily routine.

Elad’s co-instructors include:

Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence;

Mirabai Bush, co-developer of Google’s game-changing Search Inside Yourself curriculum;

Joseph Grenny, author of Crucial Conversations;

Jutta Tobias, lecturer on Business Performance Management whose work focuses on the link between mindfulness and performance;

Jane Dutton, Professor of Business Administration and Psychology at the University of Michigan;

Theresa Glomb, Professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of Minnesota;

Sylvia Boorstein, founding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center;

Monica Worline, co-founder and President of organizational development firm Vervago;

Juliet Adams, Director of A Head for Work, a firm specializing in leadership and workplace productivity.

About the Author

Elad Levinson has over 45 years of experience as a leadership coach and organizational consultant. He’s currently the Senior Organization Effectiveness Consultant at 4128Associates.

Elad has been a senior Organization Development and Learning and Development professional at Agilent, Stanford University, ICANN and several start-ups. He was the first to apply the Stress theory to business and leadership at many of these organizations.

Ep 133: Daniel Goleman at UMindfulness, 2

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast.

In this second installment of excerpts from Daniel Goleman‘s conversation at the University of Miami’s UMindfulness Lecture Series, we join Goleman as he introduces the third focus in The Triple Focus, and discusses the important role it’s played in the past, and will need to play in the future.




Healthy Relationships Begin with You


Something to ponder: when people become more mindful, do they also tend to become more relational, more aware of other people? And if so, does it also move them to action?  Elad Levinson, instructor for our first Praxis You course, Thriving on Change, spoke with Mirabai Bush about her experience with the interdependence between mindful awareness and cultivating goodwill.

“I think that mindfulness is very important in cultivating goodwill toward others.  In my experience, when I work mindfully with an intention toward compassion, for instance, I notice that I am working better with others. The more you practice, or the deeper you go, the more you tend to develop awareness of how you can make change to relieve the suffering of others.

Mindfulness gives you the space to cultivate calmness and clarity, which can allow you to become quiet enough to be present for another person–to really listen to them and be conscious of their emotions. Of course, practicing mindfulness doesn’t, in and of itself, always provide such results.  Some people begin to practice mindfulness and other meditations and would prefer to sit in a cave, so to speak. Just stay inward.  And there are long traditions of that in all the religious and spiritual traditions: contemplation doesn’t have to focus on relationships.

We really need to do complementary compassion practices to cultivate goodwill. When I consult with organizations dealing with difficult leadership transitions or mergers, I introduce a practice called Just Like Me. Here’s how it works: you look at another person and remember, call to mind, all the ways in which they are ‘just like me.’  Participants silently repeat phrases like, ‘You are another human being, with thoughts and emotions, just like me, and you have been through very difficult things in your life, and you want to be a good person, just like me.’ At the end, you send goodwill and kindness to the other person.

Keep in mind that we also need to cultivate compassion, understanding, and care for ourselves. Then an awareness of the ways in which others are just like me really begins to resonate. We have more of a predisposition, or an inclination, to treat each other with respect and dignity.”

Praxis You

Sign up for More Than Sound’s free newsletter to learn how and when to register for my Praxis You course, Thriving on Change. Email to sign up.

Take a Survey

To help us develop useful, practical courses for you, please take a few moments to complete a very short survey. As a thank you, we’ll give you free access to the introductory module of our first course, Thriving on Change. Be sure to provide your email address when you’re done with the survey.

Follow Elad Levinson

Follow Mirabai Bush

3 Pitfalls to Avoid as You Rise Through the Ranks

arrogant boss

Avoid Groupthink

The higher up the ranks you climb in an organization, the less honest feedback you receive from peers. Your team becomes “yes men and women.” Daniel Goleman and Bill George discuss why leaders need to surround themselves with diverse opinions and outlooks.

Find Your Blind Spots

Leaders need to how they’re coming across to others. Blind spots can impact our ability to interact with peers, or be fully aware of a situation.

Stop Chasing Admiration

We all make mistakes on the job. The best leaders are humble enough to recognize that they messed up, learn what not to do in the future, and develop resilience.

Put these principles into practice with Daniel Goleman’s Leadership: A Master Class video series and training guide. Enter discount code LMC250 at checkout to save $250 on the training guide.

Leadership A Master Class Training Guide


A Mindful Workplace: Shifting from Difficulty to Opportunity

difficulty opportunity

Mirabai Bush, co-founder of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and long-time mindfulness coach for organizations, has noticed the positive impact mindfulness techniques can have on employees throughout her 40+ year career. Below is an excerpt of her conversation with Elad Levinson, creator and facilitator of the upcoming Praxis You course, Thriving on Change.

Benefits of a Mindful Workplace

“When I began introducing mindfulness methods to co-workers or clients, the most noticeable shift was that people became more present with difficulty. They didn’t repress it or push it away. They were better able to say, “Okay, here’s a difficult situation. What are our options? What are the possibilities? What can we do with it?” I began to see a calmness and acceptance in difficult moments.

People also started to accept change with more ease. As you may know, when we practice mindfulness, we learn to see that everything is changing all the time. We watch our mind and our body. We notice thoughts and physical sensations rise and fall away. Sensations are changing. Ideas are changing. We become much more comfortable with change.

When I first started working with Google, I was intrigued by a real-time projection of what people were Googling. The whole wall was a projection of all these questions, phrases and fragments going up the wall, and then disappearing. I thought, “This is the global mind at work.” Just the way you watch your own mind in meditation, you’re getting to watch what the global mind is thinking and letting go of.

Back to coping with change. When I worked with a large chemical company in the mid-‘90s, there was always a possibility they were going to be bought by somebody else. It was that period of mergers and acquisitions. The employees were always really worried about job security. I would focus our mindfulness practice retreats on dealing with change.

We discovered that the more comfortable we become with change, the more we can just be with whatever arises. Including a job loss. And that’s not to minimize that such a change could cause suffering. But we’d be able to be there with that suffering. That presence and awareness was huge in terms of developing leaders.”

Praxis You

Sign up for More Than Sound’s free newsletter to learn how and when to register for my Praxis You course, Thriving on Change. Email to sign up.

Take a Survey

To help us develop useful, practical courses for you, please take a few moments to complete a very short survey. As a thank you, we’ll give you free access to module one of our first course, Thriving on Change. Be sure to provide your email address when you’re done with the survey.


Mirabai Bush on founding The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society

Mirabai Bush and Daniel Goleman on the importance of self-awareness and self-regulation

Coping with Change guided exercise

Practice Emotional Intelligence

Additional Resources

Working with Mindfulness: Research and Practice of Mindful Techniques in Organizations

Working with Mindfulness Guided Audio Exercises (CD or digital download)

Cultivating Focus: Techniques for Excellence

Ep 132: Daniel Goleman at UMindfulness, 1

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast.

This episode is the first in a series of excerpts from Daniel Goleman‘s conversation at the University of Miami’s UMindfulness Lecture Series. We’ll join Goleman as he introduces the roots of The Triple Focus, and begins to dig into its first two types of Focus.




Distraction: How Americans Manage Stress


Image: Rubén Chase/Flickr

Avoiding Stress Doesn’t Help You Manage Stress

Ep. 131: Seven Steps Of Getting Beyond Yes in Negotiation

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast.


Longtime listeners will recall hearing from Erica Fox, of the Harvard Business School, about her Beyond Yes method of negotiation. In this excerpt from Daniel Goleman‘s conversation with Fox, for Leadership: A Master Class, she introduces the method’s seven steps.

Their full conversation, including an introduction of the four archetypes Fox mentions in this podcast, can be heard in the new Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide.