The Compassion Mindset

Compassion Is More Than A Feeling

Some people think that empathy and compassion are synonymous. They aren’t, because compassion is more than a feeling.

You have to actually do something to be compassionate. So others have suggested that compassion is “empathy in action.”

“Empathy in action” definition limits compassion

  • It makes compassion dependent on empathy.
  • It relies on a shared emotional experience.
  • It precludes other motivators of compassion.

What motivates you to show compassion?

While empathy is a great motivator for compassionate behavior, it’s not the only one.

Feelings?

The practice of compassion can be motivated by emotions, e.g. “I feel for her. I’ve been through something similar so I can relate.” This is what most people view as empathy, an emotional experience that connects people. In this case, compassion indeed is empathy in action.

Logic?

It can be motivated by logical analysis, e.g. “I have skills that could help. By serving on the Habitat for Humanity board, I could use those skills to help a family have a home.” This would redefine compassion as thoughts in action.

Values?

It can be motivated by principles and values, e.g. “I believe that every child deserves a stable adult role-model, so I will volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters.” Now compassion is equated with values in action.

Guilt?

It can be motivated by guilt, e.g. “I feel so badly that I have more than enough to eat while others are starving.” Here, compassion is simply a form of making things right.

Compassion without emotions?

“But how can you really be compassionate without an emotional component?” you might ask.

You can’t. Compassion isn’t possible without Openness, which means emotional transparency; valuing the emotional experience of our selves and others. Empathy is only one of three ways to do this.

Two more ways to be open

Validation, which is the act of affirming and valuing another person’s emotional motives and experiences. e.g. “Your feelings matter. It’s OK to be upset. I’m listening.”

Validation is not empathy. It does not rely on shared emotional experiences, although it needs to be sincere.

The third way to practice openness is disclosure, which is the act of sharing your own emotional motives and experiences, e.g. “I’m angry about what happened last night,” or “I want to feel safe in this relationship.” Disclosure is a self-ful act that also connects people. The vulnerability of disclosure sends the message that you care enough about yourself to let others know and ask for what you want, and it sends the message to others that it’s safe to share emotions. Disclosure in not empathy because it’s not about the other person.

Compassion can be motivated by more than empathy, so don’t limit it with the definition of “empathy in action”. Once motivated, compassion can be activated by Empathy, Validation, and Disclosure. Any of these can get the ball rolling for practicing real compassion.

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

We are on a mission to bring more compassion to every workplace in the world. It starts with recognizing that compassion is accessible to anyone and it can be learned and practiced in every interaction.


Learn more about The Compassion Mindset, our enterprise program for bringing more compassion to your workplace.

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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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Personality And Compassion

How compassionate are you? What are your compassion strengths and weaknesses? How does your personality impact your ability to practice compassion?

If you’ve ever completed a personality or strengths assessment, now’s the time to fetch your results and identify your signature strengths (and weaknesses).

Compassion requires three skills; openness, resourcefulness, and persistence. Openness creates a safe space where the real issues can be surfaced. Resourcefulness creates a curious space where creative problem-solving can happen. Persistence creates a consistent space where boundaries and principles are honored.

Each skill if necessary but not sufficient for full compassion. Our Compassion Cycle shows how these three skills work together, in order, to practice full compassion.

Here’s a list of typical personality-based strengths that correspond to each compassion skill.

Openness

  • Sensitive
  • Warm
  • Reflective
  • Calm
  • Spontaneous
  • Playful

Resourcefulness

  • Creative
  • Organized
  • Logical
  • Observant
  • Adaptable
  • Charming
  • Imaginative

Persistence

  • Dedicated
  • Conscientious
  • Responsible
  • Persuasive

Comparing results from your own assessment, where is the most alignment? Where is the least alignment? What areas do you need to develop to practice fuller compassion?

The good news is that any personality type can start somewhere with their strengths. The bad news is that no personality type is singularly equipped for full compassion. So we all need to stretch ourselves and learn new skills if we want to grow in compassion.

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2020

Start building out your compassion skills with The Compassion Mindset online course.

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What Are You Doing With The Energy of Conflict?

Conflict is a gap between what you want and what you are experiencing.

That gap contains a lot of energy. How you use that energy is your choice. Here are four options.

You could AVOID the gap, hoping it will go away. But the energy is still there. Without intention, that energy will infect your life through rumination, sleepless nights, mental drain, and even physical symptoms. This is wasteful energy management. (more…)

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Self-Compassion vs. Compassionate Self-Care

Self-Compassion is so important. Practices such as mindfulness, self-acceptance, and presence help us stay balanced. But we need more than that to stay healthy when we are facing rapid change in our working and living conditions.

Compassionate self-care is quite different. Our definition of compassion is, “the practice of demonstrating that people are valuable, capable, and responsible.” Self-Compassion focuses mostly on the “valuable” part. Compassionate self-care is more comprehensive.

Demonstrating that you are valuable means

  • Accepting your feelings as valid, and treating them as important signs of how you are doing.
  • Identifying and naming your emotional experience.
  • Sharing how you feel with others, without any expectations.

It might sound like this…

“I’m anxious about being able to lead my team remotely right now.”

“I’m glad we are going through this together.”

“I’ve noticed I’m not sleeping as well because I keep replaying things in my head.”

Demonstrating that you are capable means

  • Trying new things and learning from mistakes.
  • Asking for the kind of information or resources that would help you most.
  • Using your past experiences, successes, skills as valuable assets right now.
  • Forgiving yourself or not being perfect or having it all figured out.

It might sound like this…

“There’s this recipe I’ve always wanted to try. What do I have to lose!”

“Will you recommend a secure video sharing service?”

“I raised two children by myself. What did I learn that I could apply now?”

Demonstrating that you are responsible means

  • Setting and reinforcing heathy boundaries around your sleep, exercise, routines, eating.
  • Serving others in a way that doesn’t drain you.
  • Apologizing and owning up when you slip up.

It might sound like this…

“I feel better when I get up at my usual time, get dressed, and act like I’m going to work.”

“I will volunteer to get groceries for two of my neighbors. That’s all.”

“I am sorry for snapping at you. I let the stress get to me instead of telling you how I felt earlier. I will be more open with you going forward.”

Would you like to learn more about compassionate self-care and get guidance from a Next Element facilitator?

Join our Free 45 minute Drama-Resilience Webinar: Compassionate Self-Care During Covid-19. Based on our Leading Out of Drama model, we will help you use compassion to keep all those energy vampires at bay!

Click here to register.

Copyright Next Element Consulting,  LLC 2020
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How To Communicate with Compassion During Crisis

I travel quite a bit, so I’ve been paying attention to how the airlines are responding to the coronavirus crisis. I’ve gotten emails from the three airlines I use most, Delta, American, and United. Crisis communication requires compassion, which was notably absent in these messages.

All of the notifications conveyed two basic messages;

  1. We know safety is important so here’s what we are doing about it. (Information)
  2. Here’s why you can still trust us. (Commitments)

Here are the opening and closing paragraphs for each email I received. I’ve left out the parts listing the specific actions each airline is taking since they are essentially identical. Information parts are coded Blue, and Commitments are in Purple.

Delta (Ed Bastain, CEO)

As a valued member of the Delta family, I appreciate the trust you place in us and our people worldwide when you travel.

In the current environment, it’s important for all of us to travel smarter and more consciously. That’s why I want to personally update you on the situation with COVID-19 (the coronavirus) and the steps we are taking to ensure your health and safety in your travels.

(Here they list all the steps they are taking)

I believe Delta’s mission of connecting the world and creating opportunities is never more important than at times like this.

Thank you for your continued trust in Delta, and I look forward to seeing you in my own travels throughout the year.

American (Kurt Stache, SVP, Customer Experience)

Your safety and well-being is always our top priority at American Airlines, but particularly in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Providing you with up-to-date information on what we are doing to respond to the issue is a critical step in giving you peace of mind when you travel. Here are a few highlights of our efforts:

(Here they list all the steps they are taking)

We are confident that our incredible team of more than 130,000 will care for you in the best possible way during your journey with us.

United (Oscar Munoz)

I consider you part of our United family and your safety remains our highest priority.

We are in the business of serving people and in the midst of this coronavirus outbreak it’s important that we give you as much flexibility as possible when planning your next trip. But it’s also important that we give you as much information as possible about the procedures we follow to clean our aircraft and maintain a sanitary environment once we’re in the air.

(Here they list all the steps they are taking)

I want you to know that you can continue to rely on us. So, the next time we have the privilege of welcoming you aboard our aircraft, you can know our commitment to you remains as steadfast as ever.

Lack of Compassion in Crisis Communication

What’s consistently missing in these crisis communication emails is openness, the foundation for compassion. None of these top leaders make an emotional connection with their constituents. There is no empathy for the feelings of anxiety and fear and no acknowledgment of the vulnerability we all feel. United and Delta make a broad statement about “family” but show no effort to connect at a personal level.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Compassionate communication requires transparent information exchange, and solid commitments to behavior, but first and foremost is an emotional connection that acknowledges the human connection we all have. Why? Because it is this connection that get us through the crisis together instead of falling apart.

The Compassion Cycle provides a framework for communicating during crisis while including all aspects of compassion.

Openness: Make an emotional connection. Most importantly during crisis is to name the anxiety and fear and connect personally with it so that people get the message, “You aren’t alone and you feelings matter.”

Resourcefulness: Active, informed problem-solving. All three airlines did a great job of this. Even better, give us travelers things we can do to lower our risk and partner with you in the solution. This helps us feel more in control during times of uncertainty.

Persistence: Be trustworthy. Be trustworthy. Be trustworthy. Be honest, be dependable, and be consistent. We all need to know what to expect from you.

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

Ideal compassionate communication from any airline would have read like this;

I can imagine that you are anxious and afraid about travel safety in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. This is perfectly normal and we are in this together. Our loved ones are also traveling. We are here for you because you are part of our family.

Here is the most up-to-date information we know, and these are the steps we are taking to ensure your continued safety and comfort.

Our mission is ___________. Our commitment to you is__________. You can count on us to uphold these values during this crisis.

I appreciate how difficult it is to communicate effectively in times of crisis and uncertainty. If you are struggling to find the right approach, use ORP (Open-Resourceful-Persistent) to do it with compassion. We are committed to teaching you effective communicating strategies so you can feel more confident during turbulent times.

If you need help, give us a call.

Mr. Munoz, Mr. Bastain, and Mr. Stache, the first consultation is on me!

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

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2020

Are travel restrictions are keeping you in your office? Take advantage of our VIRTUAL training, consulting and coaching programs.

Next Element’s training programs were built for RIGHT NOW. Never has the need for compassionate leadership and healthy conflict negotiation been more important.

  • No travel needed: Virtual instructor led via webinar
  • Quick: Two hour courses
  • Practical: Immediately applicable skills
  • Cost-Effective: Digital materials, volume discounts
  • Rapid Scaling: Virtual certification allows large-scale deployment within days or weeks.
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Three Permissions To Increase Compassion In Your Life

Never underestimate the power of inhibitions. How many times in your life have you been told “Don’t,” “You shouldn’t,” or “You can’t?” Did it start early in your life with a parent, caregiver, teacher, or coach? Do you remember how you felt? Did you internalize these messages? How much have those limitations inhibited you throughout your life?

I’m genuinely sorry this happened to you. It’s unfortunate that people who cared about you and wanted to protect you said these things. This is tragic.

Because you were meant to thrive. And fly. And make a ruckus. (more…)

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