Ask Skip: How Can I Feel Compassion for an Employee Caught Lying & Is Being Deceptive?

All “Ask Skip Questions that appear in this blog are actual questions submitted to me directly from blog subscribers or other inquiries that come in through the main website or via my Social Media pages on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication”question here!

Last Friday, June 14th in my Power Word Series, I suggested “compassion” is a Power Word leaders the likes of  basketball hall of fame coach Phil Jackson, and hall of fame hockey player Mark Messier, have used as a key strategy in leading others to multiple championship seasons.

A subscriber to this blog sent me a direct email in response to that blog post asking:

“This is a great article and I am going through a management situation that may require compassion.  However if an employee is caught lying and is being deceptive, should compassion still be utilized? Thank You, Rich M.”

I’m certain this is a question others have asked themselves many times. And, like Rich, I know there are many other subscribers who are facing similar situations today. So, here is my answer to this very challenging leadership communication situation:

The short answer, Rich, is “YES!”

“Yes,” is the answer because being compassionate doesn’t mean that you agree with, or accept, the behavior, and that there will be no repercussions or punishment. It just means you see the other person as a human being with all the positive and negative traits we all have. It is my belief that all humans deserve compassion.

Approaching situations like this raise our level of consciousness and will also allow us as leaders to develop followers who feel trusted and will be willing to take risks. Taking risks is where all personal and professional growth comes from. Without, individuals and organizations become stagnant, and stagnancy leads to decline and death, literally and figuratively.

Here are some tips on how you can be compassionate in these type of situations:

The best way to be compassionate about this situation is to be curious. The reason curiosity is important on the path to compassion is because everything human beings do they do for a reason, and that reason ALWAYS has positive intent behind it. Human beings only do things for positive intent, no matter how destructive the behavior is.

For example, even the most destructive of all human behaviors, suicide, is done for positive intent. This is because the pain of living is so much stronger than the pain of death, and so the belief is that death will alleviate the pain.

So, get curious.

When getting curious the best way is to begin with “empathy.” Empathy is showing that you understand how another person is feeling and why.

From there understanding how a person feels and why they feel that way leads to an understanding as to why they behaved in a certain way, and its the understanding that leads to compassion.

Again, compassion doesn’t mean that you agree with or accept the behavior, nor that there will be no repercussions or punishment. It just means that you understand and care about the other individual as a human being and want to do the best thing for all concerned, instead of focusing on revenge and getting even, which is personally destructive to ourselves and not so much the perpetrator.

Does that make sense and/or help in any way?

Either way, leave a comment below and let me know so we can continue the discussion!

’til next time, make it a great week!

4 thoughts on “Ask Skip: How Can I Feel Compassion for an Employee Caught Lying & Is Being Deceptive?

  1. David Lee says:

    Great post Skip.

    Your comments remind me of a funny–but useful–question a seminar participant asked me last week when I was sharing a story of how I didn’t bring my best self to a conversation with a stranger (fellow volunteer) who launched into an out of the blue attack.

    After sharing my story and how I wished I had responded in a more evolved, compassionate way, a participant said: “Do we have to ALWAYS make our response therapeutic for the other person?”

    I assured her that she doesn’t have to do anything..that I was just sharing an example of A) We’re all a work in progress and I still get triggered and B) I believe that bringing our best self to difficult interactions is one of the most powerful ways we can bring good into the world, and C) I really want to bring good into the world, so I take my effect on others very seriously.

    So, yes, when we demonstrate compassion and concern, it doesn’t mean tolerating bad behavior or sub-par performance, but…it does mean we are modeling attitudes and behaviors that will make the world a better place.

    And who knows…maybe THAT person will be so impressed with how THEY felt being treated that way, that they will want to bring that approach to the people they interact with.

    Thanks and best regards,

    David Lee

  2. Skip Weisman, Workplace Communication Expert says:

    Great story! Thanks for being inspired to comment and add value to my blog.

    I always turn the discussion around and ask the other person if they’ve ever done something they’re not proud of and were treated by others who experienced it in a less than compassionate manner and how it made them feel?

    We all do dumb things, bad things, things inconsistent with our better selves sometimes and long for the compassion or others and for forgiveness. So, I believe it should be only natural to give it first.

    Your last line says it best because it truly speaks to the old Gandhi quote of “be the change you want to see in others.” We have to model what we want others to do.

    As a matter of fact, just yesterday it was brought to my attention that I committed one of my 7 deadliest communication sins by “assuming” someone knew of a confirmed meeting that I failed to follow through and confirm with.

    It happens to the best of us, as we try to get better every day!
    Thanks, again, for sharing your experiences and thoughts. Please come back again.

  3. Florence says:

    Hi Skip,
    This is great post and I entirely agree with your developments. as long as I have experienced it several times.
    The first time was when I resigned from my first company, the National Institute of Statistics. The guy who was my direct hierarchy wrote lots of wrong reports on me. Everybody thought I would hate him all my life. But they were suprised I did not blame him at all because i understood that he was affraid of loosing his power since I was the one doing all the work for him. I had but COMPASSION and people did not understand me.

    The second example is that of my partner in my last company, ASL. We were many partners and I was the managing partner and he the Chairman. After some years working together, I realised that we didn’t share the same values and vision. He wanted me to work the way he personnaly wanted but I decided to keep my values and just work the way the board of directors decided. He was then frustrated and became my very first enemy. But till I left the company, I had but COMPASSION because I understood He wanted to take care of his family, no matter the way he earned the money.

    From those examples, I can assure you that they hurted me a lot but I have no ressentment towards them. I understand they are human being with their own reasons, even if I will never work or partner with them anymore.

    Thanks Skip for making it clear in my mind.

  4. Skip Weisman, Workplace Communication Expert says:

    Those are two great examples of real life situations. You obviously made a great choice in handling the situation and seeking first to understand, doesn’t mean you have to agree. At times like that you respect the person for their own way of being and choose not to be part of it.

    I think one of the challenges is that we, ourselves, fail to make the choices as you did, and resent the other person for being who they are and who they need to be, blaming them for our situation and mindset, when in reality we always have the power to choose our response and sometimes “removal” is something we need to decide for our own health and well-being.

    Thank you, so much, for your contribution here. I’m sure others will learn and benefit from it.

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