Grants and Research Committee Research Annotation, February 2012

By Kerry Knickle 

Title of Reviewed Work: Compassionate Communication in the Workplace: Exploring Processes of Noticing, Connecting and Responding.

Author(s): Miller, Katherine I.
Year:      2007
Publication: Journal of Applied Communication Research, 35.3 (2007): 223-245.

The author is a professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University.

This qualitative study was designed to examine communication between individuals involved in emotional work with clients, patients or students.  A clear delineation is made between the front line service of emotional labor (flight attendants, waitresses, telemarketers, and bill collectors, etc) where emotion may be more result oriented and linked to management profits and fleeting customer relationships, and the human service of emotional work (nurses, teachers, physicians, social workers, chaplains etc) where a wide range of authentic human emotions are involved.  Compassion is identified as one emotion often connected with emotional work.  Noticing, connecting and responding are the three sub processes outlined and discussed.  A representative sample of twenty-three study participants agreed to be interviewed and audio-recorded by a member of a four-person research team to explore issues of compassionate communication in the workplace.

The study reports a rich and complex array of ideas and strategies related to person-centered compassionate communication, practical applications for working individuals and their institutions as well as insightful contributions to contemporary communications theory.

This is a compelling article that examines the importance of emotional work and compassion as a significant communication through line for workers and their clients.

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