Conflict Without Casualties

Overcome Five Misconceptions About Compassion For A Better 2021

Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.”

I disagree.

Here’s what I believe. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over knowing you’ll get the same results, but wishing for something different. Humans are creatures of habit. We do the same things over and over because deep down we want the same results. We want things to be predictable because that doesn’t require us to take risks and be brave.

Yet we wish for more. We crave better relationships, more meaningful work, a purposeful life, inclusion, and the satisfaction of contributing. We can wish for something different, but until we adopt a new mindset and skills, we would be insane to expect anything different.

The answer to end the insanity is compassion. To be human is to have compassion. Compassion is what connects us and gets us back on track when we lose our way. Compassion is the key to our survival. Compassion is how we make diversity our greatest strength.

Unfortunately, as humans we’ve developed some misconceptions about compassion that are holding us back, even though we wish for more and often have good intentions.

Most people equate compassion with empathy

Wrong. Compassion is much more than a feeling. It’s also about creative problem-solving and advocacy for justice.

Most people believe that compassion is a soft skill

Wrong. Compassion is a life skill. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Most people believe that compassion is just for self-less servant leaders.

Wrong. Compassion honors our own needs and boundaries too. Did you know that practicing compassion stimulates the reward centers of the brain?

Most people believe that compassion is something that comes naturally; you either have it or you don’t.

Wrong. Compassion can be learned and doesn’t require a touchy-feely personality.

Most people believe that compassion is about alleviating suffering.

Wrong. Compassion is about suffering alongside to enhance people’s value, capability, and responsibility. We are in this together.

It’s time to re-imagine compassion.

Here’s how we define compassion:

Compassion is the practice of demonstrating that we are valuable, capable, and responsible in every interaction.

Compassion is a habit, a way of life that is cultivated daily and manifested through our behavior, in every interaction.

Because we are valuable, everyone deserves to be heard, affirmed, safe, invited, and included.

Because we are capable, everyone deserves the invitation to contribute, participate, take ownership, and be part of the solution.

Because we are responsible, everyone is accountable for their feelings, thoughts, and actions. Not just one of these, but all three. All the time. In every interaction. And it applies to you too.

How would you act differently if you believed that everyone, including you, was valuable, capable, and responsible?

Einstein also said this, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Change the way you look at compassion and your world can change in 2021.

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2021
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Hope Is In The Grey

Extremes are not who we are, it’s how we behave when we are afraid, sad, anxious, angry, desperate, lonely, and disconnected. When we go to extremes, division is inevitable. It’s tragic since this is when we most need to feel heard and seen.

It can feel hopeless staring into the divide, wondering how we will go forward as a family, a community or a nation when we feel so far apart.

Division is an opportunity to invite dialogue. Not about our extreme positions or dogmas, because all that does is fuel our cover-up selves. Instead, we can dialogue about our cravings for connection and impact.

How do you want to be seen?

What gives you hope?

What are you most afraid of?

What connections and activities are most life-giving for you?

What have you lost that was significant? 

Compassion helps us have curious dialogue that invites people into the grey areas between us. In the grey there are no black and white positions, no swords to fall on, and no judgment. In the grey we are open and curious, seeking to understand and validate the human behind the extremes.

In the grey there is hope.

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2020
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Unsubscribe From Drama

I start every day by scanning my email inbox and reading the subject lines. Before I open anything, I dismiss the ones I don’t want, don’t recognize, don’t need, or won’t read. It’s time consuming and frustrating. I do this every day.

Ninety percent of the emails I delete are from the same source every day. So frustrating! Why do they keep hounding me? How did I even get myself on that list!?

I tell myself I really should unsubscribe so that I can eliminate the hassle. But I don’t, for a variety of reasons. Maybe tomorrow. Meanwhile, I keep dismissing and complaining.

Unsubscribing is much more difficult than dismissing or complaining.

  • It requires a conscious choice
  • It requires time and effort
  • Sometimes it’s uncomfortable and involves conflict
  • You might be asked to disclose your intentions and desires
  • It means you are letting go of that opportunity in tomorrow’s inbox

What if today you unsubscribed from avoidance, blame, excuses, worry, and fear? What if you made a conscious choice, took the time and made the effort, faced the conflict, disclosed your intentions, and let go of drama?

What would be left in your inbox?

What could you do with all that extra energy?

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2020

P.S. Although I hope you don’t unsubscribe from my blog, you have my permission to let it go if it’s not enriching your life in some way. What I’d prefer is if you engaged with me, shared your comments, and let me know what I could do to make it better. 

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How To Be Passionate Without Being Judgmental

Yesterday I interviewed my friend, Dr. John Izzo, about his new book, Stepping Up: How Taking Responsibility Changes Everything. I always enjoy talking with John, but I also have a hint of concern that I will feel judged. His books have titles like, “The Purpose Revolution,” and “Awakening Corporate Soul,” and “Stepping Up,” so I expect a little finger-wagging and soapboxing. (more…)

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What Does The Dalai Lama Know About Compassionate Leadership?

Daniel Goleman has spent the last 30 years researching and developing the science of Emotional Intelligence, and is a friend of the Dalai Lama. Recently he was asked to write a book about the Dalai Lama’s compassionate approach to addressing the world’s most intractable problems. Just published in June 2020, Force for Good, is both an exploration of the science and the power of compassion and a call to action. (more…)

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Why Drama Is Your Greatest Threat During Crisis And How To Respond With Compassion

With the Coronavirus outbreak, the world is on high alert. People are anxious and afraid. It’s difficult to separate fact from fear and plain talk from politics. Drama is at an all-time high.

The real impact of this crisis on you your business depends on many factors that we can’t control. But the big question is whether our response will make us part of the problem or part of the solution.

Your response to crisis either makes you part of the problem, or part of the solution.

Here are three drama-based responses to uncertainty and crisis that only make things worse, and compassionate alternatives that help you be part of the solution.

Giving In

Do you shut down, believing you are helpless and avoid reality because you don’t want to face your feelings of anxiety or fear? This type of drama only magnifies irrational paranoia.

Compassionate Alternative

  • Get vulnerable with your own feelings. Let others know you are human too.
  • Empathize with others. People want to know they aren’t alone.
  • Validate other people’s feelings. People want to know it’s safe to talk about it.

Giving Unsolicited Advice

Do you swoop in trying to help everyone and masquerade as the expert? Do you feel more in control when you have advice and answers? This type of drama only creates resentment because it invites others to feel even less in control of their own destiny.

Compassionate Alternative

  • Get curious and ask permission before you offer help or information. People want to be included.
  • Ask people for ideas on creative solutions. People want to feel involved.
  • Leverage current opportunities and assets to adapt with purpose. People want to feel empowered.

Giving Ultimatums

Do broad generalizations, threats, and black or white statements help you feel powerful? When you blame and attack everyone else, do you feel more confident? Sadly, this type of drama only pushes people away, the very people whom you need most to find a way through the crisis.

Compassionate Alternative

  • Clarity the most important priorities, such as relationships, commitments, and safety. People want to know what to expect.
  • Focus on what you can control, especially your integrity and trustworthiness. People want to know they can count on you.
  • Apologize and make it right when you make a mistake or realize you need to adjust course. People want to know you will take responsibility.

By using compassion, humanity can overcome the negative pull of drama and rise to our best selves, especially in times of uncertainty and crisis.

Want help applying our compassion template to your crisis communication strategy? Call us for a free 30 minute consultation. +1 316 283 4200, email 

Next Element offers Virtual Training for Leading Out of Drama and implementing The Compassion Mindset. In just a couple of hours and without leaving their offices, your leaders can get training on new communication, compassion and constructive conflict tools.

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2020
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Conflict Is Not Approved For That Application

Arthur Brooks, economist and author of Love Your Enemies estimates that seven percent of the population profits from contempt. Contempt is how we feel when we view others as invaluable, incapable, and irresponsible. This is exactly the opposite of compassion.


Contempt-mongers make their living by using conflict as a weapon. They have honed the art of stoking division, emphasizing differences, inviting fear, and normalizing the degradation of anyone who gets in their way.

Conflict was never approved for use as a weapon.

Conflict is a natural consequence of diversity. Diversity is a natural and wonderful part of this world we live in. The purpose of conflict is to create, not destroy.

Conflict has been approved as a viable energy source for creating something amazing.

Compassion is the mechanism for harnessing the positive potential in conflict.

So what’s up with the seven percent? 

  • Ignorance; we don’t know and don’t want to know about those other people
  • Greed; compassion threatens our personal stockpile of stuff
  • Fear; I don’t know what would happen, but it’s probably bad
  • Upbringing; it’s how I was raised
  • Us vs. Them; we are right, they are different, they need to be eliminated
  • It pays off; contempt-mongering gets me what I want

The good news!

93% of the world prefers compassion.

Who is your role model in the 93%? Will you give them a shout out on this post?

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Mis-Communicable Diseases

Mis-communicable diseases are illnesses passed from person to person through miscommunication. That’s because miscommunication infects people with negativity; inferiority, guilt, shame, and fear. Forget the basic cases of not understanding each other. I’m talking about getting hooked, and the next thing you know, you’re under the weather. (more…)

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