Mercy seems in short supply these days. By mercy I’m referring to compassion shown to an offender or compassionate treatment of those in distress. It’s hard not to pass judgment and even harder to forgive another when we have been wronged. When the person deserving of our mercy is an opponent, the idea of meeting their needs before our own feels awkward and unnecessary.
This year’s political season is sadly devoid of mercy. Every candidate, from the long and exhausting primary period to the current final push for the White House, has been guilty of chiding, faultfinding, and avenging. In a world that desperately needs mercy we all seem more interested in seeking vengeance and protecting our egos and interests.
Business leaders can show mercy in a variety of small ways.
- Be more patient. Find ways to tolerate the person who has annoying habits or tends not to share your sense of urgency or attention to details.
- Offer help. Notice the people who seem distracted or emotionally vulnerable. They may be hurting because of personal issues and need your assistance.
- Be kind. Instead of looking for ways to get even when someone offends you, practice kindness and offer forgiveness.
- Do something good. Don’t wait for an invitation to do the right thing. Actively seek ways to right a wrong or give another person a second chance.
- Build bridges. Everyone deserves opportunities, regardless of their circumstance. Look for ways to foster relationships with those who don’t have as many friends or who have caused you pain in the past.
Mercy is not dependent on performance; it does not blame or judge. There is plenty of inequity in our world but too few leaders willing to show mercy. Perhaps this is because most of us share a worldview of scarcity instead of abundance. We protect and withhold, especially if we have been the victim of injustice.
We cannot offer mercy until we accept that we are all loved and created to love others. In its purest form mercy is simply love put into action to make a difference in the world. What will you do to show mercy?