30 minutes per day for two weeks can make your colleagues more compassionate.

During my work on this project, I’ve learned that one of the reasons for negative workplace culture in museums is a lack of resources. It’s complicated, but it does follow logically that when cuts need to be made to balance the budget, professional development is often the first to go and staff, reasonably, resent this.  Knowing that a lot of my colleagues are in this situation,  I’ve been looking for alternatives to the standard (often pricey) museum conferences or day-long workshops for free or cheap continuous learning opportunities.

Today I learned about this:

A new study by researchers at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that adults can be trained to be more compassionate. The report, recently published online in the journal Psychological Science, is the first to investigate whether training adults in compassion can result in greater altruistic behavior and related changes in neural systems underlying compassion.

“Our fundamental question was, ‘Can compassion be trained and learned in adults? Can we become more caring if we practice that mindset?'” says Helen Weng, a graduate student in clinical psychology and lead author of the paper. “Our evidence points to yes.”

How interesting! For two reasons: one, we can be taught something that many believe you just have or don’t, and two, that it only takes TWO WEEKS. Even better, only 30 minutes a day. And it is free (get it all here).

What if your workplace did this? Just think of everyone who could benefit, from board members to front-line staffers dealing with membership complaints all day. Have an all-staff check in midway through and plan a party at the end of the fortnight.

You can even try it just for yourself. As one of their participants stated, “After compassion training, I feel far greater kindness and self-acceptance towards myself. The harsh self-critic is gradually unraveling.”