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Top 10 tips for self-compassion in the workplace

Mar 18, 2021 | Tips for small businesses

Self-compassion isn’t a new phenomenon. Looking after ourselves should and will always be a priority. However, this is often associated with out of work activities like spa days, or yoga and meditation or long hot baths after long cold walks. All these things are very valuable and important, but it’s also essential to practise self-compassion in the workplace. If we don’t look after ourselves at work too we’ll end up burning out, being resentful and even being less efficient and enthusiastic. As respectful and caring colleagues we often look out for our co-workers and do things to support them. We have true compassion for our team. However, if you stop and think – do you really show yourself the same respect and care at work?

Know what works best for you

There’s a lot of information in this space at the moment and we encourage you to tread carefully and try a few things to start off with and see what works for you. We’ve learnt a lot over the past year whilst working for ourselves (and remotely!) and we hope you can learn a few tips from us and be inspired a little bit. We aren’t here to preach or to tell you what might work though. You will always know what works best for you.

Saltoria’s top 10 tips for self-compassion in the workplace

1. Be open!

This is a tricky one and hard to just adopt overnight. But, we encourage you to be open to change, to being challenged, to new views and ideas. You might be an expert at what you do – but that doesn’t mean someone more junior doesn’t have valuable insights and ideas. Sometimes the best ideas come from unexpected people. We are often in our own echo chambers at work – especially when our to-do list is super long. But, we encourage you to be open to new ideas and new types of conversations. Maybe it’s time to do things differently? Often stress comes from thinking things have to be a set way, or thinking we have to do things exactly how we did it last time we were successful. Once you loosen up these views you’ll realise you’re more relaxed and less tense. 

2. Remember to fuel both your mind and body.

This one is very practical and simple. Remember to move your body every half hour, to eat lunch and have regular snacks. Also, don’t forget to get fresh air! Remember to have fun/non-work chats throughout the day too. These are all things we know we should do, but we forget or we get busy or we say we’ll have a big dinner. You’ll be more productive and fulfilled if you focus on these important things. 

3. Don’t be afraid to exercise your personal boundaries.

This can be especially relevant when dealing with customers directly. If you are in a customer-facing role you can all too easily absorb the customer’s mood and/or attitude and this can really transform your day (or week!). Take a deep breath and say ‘I understand your concerns. I will look into this for you and get back to you shortly’…you don’t have to do everything asap just because you’re being asked. At Saltoria Marketing we are both natural people pleasers and we just want to impress people and make them happy. But, there are going to be times when the conversation could be uncomfortable. It’s important to be kind to yourself in these scenarios and take a step away to take some deep breaths. Boundaries can work in many different ways from telling your clients they can only contact you between 9-5, to telling someone that you unfortunately don’t have the capacity to support them this week, through to telling someone that something they’ve said in a meeting makes you feel uncomfortable. This is a hard one and we are working on this a lot! But, this will truly help you be kind and compassionate to yourself. 

4. Be kind to yourself when things go wrong.

You aren’t perfect and no one else is! And actually, perfection is pretty boring right? It’s important to accept when things go wrong and to find a solution quickly and then move on. We are all human and we can’t possibly get every single thing right. Always admit your mistakes at the time and be clear about what’s happened. Don’t over apologise. A simple ‘I’ve made a mistake and I’m looking for a solution is okay. Thank your colleagues for their support and patience (this is way more powerful than an apology). If you receive negative feedback try to take it as constructive criticism and use it to your advantage to improve and enhance your skills and outcomes. Again, we appreciate this is easy to say and hard to implement. Trial it in your personal life with your loved ones and then slowly bring it into the workplace.

5. Only saying sorry if you really need to!

Expanding on the above point – apologies are good and are valuable, but you don’t need to keep repeating them! It’s respectful and professional to say sorry if it’s truly needed. However, we encourage you to double-check every time you’re about to say sorry. Is this really a situation that you’re to blame for? It’s sometimes easy to take the blame in the name of efficiency – but that’s not cool and not productive in the long-term. You can acknowledge a problem and be clear you’re looking for a solution. Say sorry once if you feel that’s required, but one is most often always enough.

6. Be firm with your schedule.

This is one that we need to try harder with! With the days and weeks blurring – it is tricky to be strict with the 9-5 schedule. However, you need to enjoy your personal time and enjoy time for yourself and your loved ones in the evenings. It’s truly okay to say no to work after 5:30. There are so many discussions about work/life balance at the moment and we need to lead by example! This also means taking regular breaks, not doing work at the weekends and taking regular annual leave.

7. Don’t be afraid to tell someone personal news if you feel comfortable.

This is sometimes all that’s needed when you’re having a rough time. Your colleagues will be supportive and will cut you some slack. It’s okay to be a friend to someone at work rather than just their boss or colleague. We believe listening is the top skill in the workplace. Being human is a good thing and will also help you become more approachable and a better leader/colleague. Sometimes all you need is a good cry, moan or hug. If you feel comfortable with sharing things with your colleagues we encourage you to include them within your support network – you see them so much and they will want to help you. 

8. Mix up your networking!

This one might not apply to everyone – but is especially relevant for business owners and entrepreneurs. Networking is a valuable and important method for brand awareness and lead generation (get in touch if you’d like to chat about this!). But, we do encourage you to approach your networking strategy with caution (and compassion). It can be tiring constantly selling yourself and constantly talking to new people. Networking can be online, in person or it can even be a bunch of LinkedIn comments every week. Mix up the style of networking to give yourself a break. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself where possible. This is a personal one – but we would also say it’s important to not consume too much of people in a similar industry. This can often make you feel inferior or throw you off the path. Mix up the kind of people you talk to and how you talk to them. It’ll make you feel more comfortable, confident and inspired. 

9. Talk to yourself like you’d treat a best friend or best work friend.

Check yourself! We are often our own worst enemy and this simply isn’t good enough. Double-check what you’re saying to yourself and check if it would be okay to say that to a close friend or colleague. If it isn’t – then why are you saying this to yourself? It’s very easy to be critical of ourselves as we see everything we do. We encourage you to keep an email folder titled ‘Praise’ where you collect positive feedback from colleagues and customers. Visit this and browse whenever you’re feeling low or like you’re not good enough. 

We also think it’s important to use positive reinforcement on yourself. Reward yourself when due. Maybe you’ve completed an excellent report and it’s taken a whole week to complete – treat yourself to a takeaway. Perhaps you’ve dealt with a tricky customer – go for an extra-long walk at lunch. Maybe you’ve just secured a big deal – we’re sure you can treat yourself to those new shoes/jacket/dress. Incentivise yourself if needed before you’ve achieved sometime as well – maybe give yourself the reward as a goal – you’ll only be able to gift yourself once you achieve a set task. Little things like this help ensure you are talking to yourself positively and you’re encouraging yourself as well as others. 

10. Be accountable.

We’ve all read many inspirational blog posts and saved Instagram quotes and promised we’ll change our lives tomorrow. But, are you actually creating a self-compassion plan? This can be something as simple as promising to take a break every hour or making sure you go outside every day. Perhaps you can dedicate at least 1 hour a day to looking after yourself? Maybe this can be a walk, a bath, catching up on Netflix or anything in between. These things take time just like a culture change would take at a company – you’re changing the culture of your mind! But, if you start small then scale up (again another good business strategy!) then you’ll hopefully be on your way to improving your own compassion and looking after yourself too. 

Have you got any tips to add to the mix? What’s your favourite way to show yourself some compassion? We think this is a really important topic right now and we’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts on this area – specifically in the workplace and the virtual workplace. 

A final note from Sally

Thank you to my good friends and ex-colleagues; Jo Chapman (Owner of Wandering Kitchen) and Charlotte Lindsell (Brand Manager at Spellbinder) for always reminding me to focus on self-compassion and for sharing some of their fab tips to help inspire this blog!

Learn more about how we’ve launched our own business and what we’d do differently today on our blog.

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