Sunday, September 8, 2013

Let Go of Grudges

Earlier this year, Stanford University held a “Compassion & Business Conference” at which Jay Narayanan from National University of Singapore shared a tale to illustrate the value of forgiveness: A group of people were asked to estimate the degree of steepness of a hill. Before giving the estimate, some of the people were instructed to think about grudges they carry with them. The other people were instructed to remember in detail a time each had chosen to forgive someone who had committed a significant mistake.
     Prof. Narayanan reported that the grudge holders judged the same hill as steeper than did the forgivers. Compassion smooths out the journey, it seems.
     I agree. Over the years, I’ve found that it consumes loads of mental energy trying to remember who I’m supposed to be mad at. I’d rather devote that energy to briskly surmounting retail business challenges.
     I’m no sucker, though. I also support the epigram “Trick me once, shame on you. Trick me twice, shame on me.” Learn from the past, but do it without all the emotions of revenge. Place a higher priority on fixing the problem than on fixing the blame.
     There is evidence compassion may be drained out of American businesspeople by management education. Researchers at Appalachian State University and University of Nevada-Reno administered to 149 MBA candidates in the U.S. and Europe the Human Spirituality Scale (HSS). The HSS asks respondents how strongly they agree or disagree with each of a set of twenty items which have been found to reflect three themes generally accepted as constituting spirituality:
  • A reverent compassion for the welfare of others 
  • A larger context or structure in which to view one's life 
  • An awareness of life itself and other living things 
     The study participants were also presented with a set of situations measuring business ethics, such as reactions to a case of an auto dealer overcharging for repairs.
     For the European MBA candidates, there was no relationship between the HSS score and evidence of ethics. For the Americans, there was an inverse relationship: Overall, those scoring highest on the HSS showed the lowest adherence to business ethics. The researchers conclude that the current generation of students of business are more likely to consider spirituality in self-interested terms than in terms of what will benefit others.
     The truth, as it turns out, is that showing compassion toward others does advance the businessperson’s self-interest.

Click below for more: 
Trick Me Once, I’m Outta Here 
Learn from the Past for the Future 
Fix the Problem, Not the Blame 
Cheat the Notion Spirituality Means Honesty

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