Whether you’re trying to build trust with customers, clients, or co-workers, compassion is key. That word sounds soft, doesn’t it? Compassion. We’re not supposed to be concerned with compassion when it comes to business, right?

Wrong. Business, like all of life, is all about relationships. And good relationships don’t exist without compassion.

In The Seven Arts of Change, David Shaner says, “For some reason, we’ve conditioned ourselves to believe that business, capitalism, and management are subjects for which the laws of compassion and interconnectedness do not apply. For some reason, under the façade of ‘it’s nothing personal; it’s just business,’ we excuse behavior we would normally consider insensitive, careless, cruel, and even abusive.”

Why do we do this? Is it okay to lie to your co-workers, but not to your family? Is it acceptable to undercut your peer, but not your spouse? Is it ever acceptable to do one thing, but say another?

I don’t think so. If we’re interested in building trust, in working and living with people who have our backs – and we have theirs – then we have to be compassionate. We have to work to understand others’ positions, especially when they differ greatly from ours. This is not easy to do; it takes practice and consistent attention. But the results are well-worth it.