Circling Back to Compassion – Important Additional Information

MumbleAfter discussing compassion as a tool for the leader’s toolbox, it was pointed out that compassion has been plasticized in modern society, and further discussion on the topic is required.  The intent here is to help provide practical steps for building a compassionate team, making compassionate people, and soliciting compassion as the prime response in customer relations.  There are some truths requiring stress to ensure a clear understanding is provided.

Compassion

The dictionary declares that compassion means “to suffer together.”  Intimating that compassionate people feel motivated to relieve suffering for they have felt the pain of suffering in another.  But, compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism.  Empathy is all about taking the perspective of and feeling another person’s emotions.  The taking is dangerous, the feeling is dangerous, and combined empathy becomes all about the person’s selfishness taking and feeling, not the sufferer. Compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help, taking nothing, onboarding no selfish emotional entanglements for personal gain, simply a desire to help relieve suffering. Altruism, in turn, is the kind, selfless behavior often prompted by feelings of compassion, though one can feel compassion without acting on it, and altruism isn’t always motivated by compassion.

The focus of compassionate people is to help without personally benefiting a person or animal in pain.  Be that pain physical, emotional, mental, etc.; the focus is always on the other and on helping as able.  Interestingly, compassion is rooted deep in the brain, whereas empathy, sympathy, and altruism are not.  Compassion changes a person fundamentally for the better, whereas research supports that sympathy, empathy, and even altruistic actions do not.  Hence compassion can be a tool in a leader’s toolbox, whereas sympathy and empathy, more often than not, are useless in building people and teams.  It is clear that compassion is intentionality, a cognizant decision to act, and the purpose is always to help.  Sympathy, empathy, and altruism are unconscious emotional desires; unless the person showing these emotions is there for personal gain, deception is intentional and conscious.

  • Truth 1. It cannot be stated enough, or more strongly, emotions are a cognizant choice based upon social cues, learned social rules, and judgments to obtain a reward.  Several good references on this topic exist, but the best and easiest originates with Robert Solomon, “Not Passions Slave: Emotions and Choice.”
  • Truth 2. Emotions are active responses, not passive, and emotions do not happen to an individual sporadically or spontaneously.  Again, several good references on this topic exist, but the best and easiest originates with Robert Solomon, “Not Passions Slave: Emotions and Choice.”

Where compassion is concerned, especially the conscious use of compassion as a leadership tool, the leader must become aware of emotions’ role and social influence and be better prepared to improve people and build cohesion in teams.  Because of compassions intentionality to render help to others, understanding how emotions are a choice and why is like putting glasses on to clarify what is happening, why, and how to duplicate or eradicate the emotional influence.  Thus, the need to emphasize these two truths, even though they are similar, are distinct and need complete understanding to best position the leader in building people.Knowledge Check!

Plastic Words – Tyranny in Language!

  • Truth 3. Uwe Poerksen, “Plastic Words: The Tyranny of Modular Language,” remains an excellent source and cautionary tale on what we are experiencing in modern society where words are captured, bent, disconnected from common definitions, and then plasticized to stretch into what that word is not intended to be used for.  There are a host of plastic words, phrases, and entire twisted languages dedicated to exerting tyranny through communication using plastic words.

Consider the following, culled from APA’s junior website, “Psychology Today.”  Please note, the article linked is the author’s personal opinion; however, for understanding the plasticity in compassion found in modern language, a better example is difficult to find.  The author insists that compassion requires using both sympathy and empathy to be compassionate.  As discussed above, sympathy and empathy should not describe or define compassion. While the words are similar, the conscious intentionality of compassion means sympathy and empathy are not, and should not, be included with compassion.

Yet, the author still provides clear guidance on compassion, insisting that compassion be ruled with logic and wisdom.  Please note, showing compassion does not mean the compassionate person needs to go into debt, sacrifice themselves, or invest to the point of exhaustion in another person.  Logic and wisdom dictate that you are not less compassionate when you govern compassion with temperance, but the reverse.  A critical point of knowledge stumbled upon while trying to plasticize compassion as sympathy or empathy; compassion requires logic and wisdom, temperance, and judgment, all conscious, active, and involved decisions to be the most effective in building people.

Finally, compassion is a two-directional mode of building people.  Both parties in a compassionate relationship are choosing consciously to engage in compassion.  Hence, both will share in the consequences; sympathy and empathy are all one-directional from the giver to the receiver, with no reciprocation.  Thus, stretching compassion to include sympathy and empathy, or even altruism, disconnects the fundamental ties of compassion from logic, and chaos ensues; where chaos exists, tyranny occurs!

Using Compassion – Focusing Upon Potential

Opportunity is potential; potential is triumph waiting for an effort to be applied.” – Dave Salisbury

The above sentiment is one of my favorite truths because of what Mumble’s Dad Memphis said in Happy Feet, “The word triumph begins with try and it ends with a great big UMPH!”  What does the informed leader do to build people?  They recognize potential, both strengths and weaknesses, as a means to grow in themselves and others.  Compassion enters when an event occurs as the emotion of connecting and building relationships.  An analogy, compassion, could be compared to the mortar used in laying bricks.  Each person and event are bricks, and by using compassion, the bricks are organized into a wall of strength.  What is the potential of a single brick in a pile; hard to say.  Organize them with compassion, and the potential becomes visible to all.

Practical Activities for Building Compassion

The following are helpful suggestions for building compassion in yourself and others.

    1. Show genuine emotion; if you’re happy, smile! If you’re struggling, let people know.  Our society has been built upon hiding what has been going on for too long.  People begin a conversation with, “How are you doing?”  The expected answer is “fine,” good,” “okay,” etc. yet, when you know how you’re doing, these answers just spread lies.  Are you building an environment where people can be honest about how they are doing?
    2. Compliments are a big part of showing compassion. Yet, too often, we cannot compliment each other without problems of sexual harassment.  The giving and accepting of compliments build trust and comfort between people.  Open the environment for giving and receiving compliments.
    3. Praise and expressions of gratitude cannot be understated as needed tools for building people. Research supports that honest, sincere, and frequent praise is better than cash for brain health and motivation.  Again, open the environment for issuing praise and gratitude.
    4. Employ reflective listening; reflective listening is listening to understand the speaker and build a two-directional solution. Active listening is easily faked; the other listening methods do not include listening, hence the need for reflective listening.
    5. Curiosity reflects a genuine interest in someone else. Ask the other person’s interests, find common ground, and build from there.  Do not forget to share.  For example, what books have you read recently?  Got a hobby, share new skills.
    6. Invest time! You cannot build compassion without investing time in yourself and with your team!  Take the time, invest the time, and employ patience.

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Build People – Compassion, a Tool For The Leadership Toolbox

A Theory About CompassionSympathy and empathy remain emotions quite dangerous, and I will include a caution to avoid these emotional entanglements.  Yet, in discussing sympathy and empathy, a question was raised regarding compassion, and I would speak to this tool.  Please note that sympathy and empathy are not compassion, and understanding the difference remains fundamental to using compassion correctly to build people.

Compassion

The dictionary declares that compassion means “to suffer together.”  Intimating that compassionate people feel motivated to relieve suffering for they have felt the pain of suffering in another.  But, compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism.  Empathy is all about taking the perspective of and feeling another person’s emotions.  The taking is dangerous, the feeling is dangerous, and combined empathy becomes all about the selfishness of the person taking and feeling, not the sufferer. Compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help, taking nothing, onboarding no selfish emotional entanglements for personal gain, simply a desire to help relieve suffering. Altruism, in turn, is the kind, selfless behavior often prompted by feelings of compassion, though one can feel compassion without acting on it, and altruism isn’t always motivated by compassion.

[Evolutionary roots for compassion] – Check this video out!  Well worth your time!

The focus of compassionate people is to help without benefiting personally a person or animal in pain.  Be that pain physical, emotional, mental, etc.; the focus is always on the other and on helping as able.  Interestingly, compassion is rooted deep in the brain, whereas empathy, sympathy, and altruism are not.  Compassion changes a person fundamentally for the better, whereas research supports that sympathy, empathy, and even altruistic actions do not.  Hence compassion can be a tool in a leader’s toolbox, whereas sympathy and empathy are more often than not useless in situations.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama

Compassion does not just happen. Pity does, but compassion is not pity. It’s not a feeling. Compassion is a viewpoint, a way of life, a perspective, a habit that becomes a discipline – and more than anything else.  Compassion is a choice we make that love is more important than comfort or convenience.” – Glennon Doyle Melton

It is clear that compassion is intentionality, a cognizant decision to act, and the purpose is always to help.  Sympathy, empathy, and altruism are simply unconscious emotional desires; unless the person showing these emotions is there for personal gain, for deception is intentional and conscious.

Please note, I am not delving into the various types of compassion.  Other researchers have done this, and frankly, I feel like Mark Twain’s quote has come to life, “We have studied something so much, we now know nothing about it.”  If you want a resource for diving deeper into compassion, check out Dr. Paul Eckman’s “Emotional Awareness” as a launch point.  Be advised, emotions are a choice made consciously, and too many researchers refuse this belief.  Passive emotional beliefs rob us of fundamental power and abilities for being human.

“Let our hearts be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Compassion as a Tool

Leadership, as a job, contains equal parts of teaching and exemplifying.  Compassion for self is observable through the words and actions of a leader.  Do you insult yourself by calling yourself “stupid,” “ignorant,” etc.?  If so, your followers will automatically presume you will do the same to them.  The tool compassion begins with relieving internal suffering, and compassion for others is nothing but an extension of compassion for self applied through action.

Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.” – Pema Chodron

It is a lack of love for ourselves that inhibits our compassion toward others. If we make friends with ourselves, then there is no obstacle to opening our hearts and minds to others.” – Anonymous

It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act.” – Dalai Lama

Consider the teacher you admire most; did they show compassion?  I guarantee they did, and their compassion is one of the most significant reasons you hail them so highly.  Compassion is not a weakness but, in fact, a strength and a motivating reason to be a better leader.  Through compassion, we train ourselves to become more tolerant of our own faults and then extend this kindness to others.

Leaders ask yourself:

    1. When was the last time you showed compassion to yourself?
    2. How much compassion do you practice daily, first on yourself, then upon your followers? – Inherent to note, you cannot be critical of yourself and compassionate to others. Compassion cannot be faked; treat yourself better.
    3. Do you build compassion and promote compassion? How often?
    4. What motivates you to develop and encourage compassion?

Using Compassion as a leader

Look for a way to lift someone up. And if that’s all you do, that’s enough.” Elizabeth Lesser

When we give ourselves compassion, we are opening our hearts in a way that can transform our lives.” – Kristin Neff

Compassion is so often the solution.” – Anonymous

Aesop has a fable about a lion with a thorn in his foot, removed by a shepherd.  M*A*S*H 4077th related this story with Aesop’s shepherd being Androcles, a Christian who was to be fed to the lions, but the lion remembering the kindness, refused to eat.  Other variations of this story exist, but the moral always comes back to support the truth, “Compassion is so often the solution” Anonymous.

In fourth grade, my second trip through this grade, I had the great privilege of witnessing the power of compassion by a principal.  The principal (Miss Murphy) told me a story of her youth where she had been a crossing guard and abused her power one day.  The child complained, and the following day her school principal called her in, but instead of punishing her, he offered praise, sincere, appropriate, and heartfelt praise.  Miss Murphy could see the complaint on the desk of her principal, knowing she should be getting punished, but instead, the compassion of the principal changed her life.  I was a third-generation extension of this principal’s compassion, through Miss Murphy, who knew I was busted for the umpteenth time, should have been expelled from school, and punished severely.  Yet, Miss Murphy had witnessed good and used this moment to express praise for the good witnessed.

NO FearI have tried not to let Miss Murphy’s compassion end with me and pass along her lesson often.  Compassion and praise remain instrumental tools in every leader’s toolbox.  Do not fear using these tools frequently, for then you also will change a life, even if that life is only your own.  I am a better person because others have provided me compassion; pass it along!

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

What is Compassion? – Chapter Three in the Emotional Chronicles

Bobblehead DollI admit October has been a hit-and-miss month, and I apologize.  I am not sure why, but I recommit to doing a better job.  Thank you for your patience, dear reader.  Though I haven’t been sitting on my thumbs, I was invited to speak at a disability event and have been furiously writing for that.  I speak on 27 October 2021 at 0600 EST.  While the event is not open to the public, I plan to post my comments online after the event, suitably altered to hide the event and employer for contractual reasons.

Due mainly to the method of my upbringing, I struggle with conceptualizing terms like love, charity, compassion, feelings, and emotions.  I fully understand anger, hate, and rage, but the rest I am a pure novice at best, and at worst, wholly ignorant.  I read the texts, studied the books, watched films and lectures, been to psychiatrists and psychologists, and much more.  My wife is very patient with me on this topic; my friends tend to tease me gently when they trip across my ignorance on a topic.  My enemies know my shortcomings well but cannot use emotions to thwart me, for emotions just don’t work on me.Angry Grizzly Bear

However, I am not a natural people person.  I see someone crying, and I have no clue what to do if there is no visible injury.  I know problem resolution, crisis management and can act well in all types of situations, but when it comes to soft skills and “playing well with others,” guess what subject I have consistently failed?  Believe me; I have the K-12 report cards to prove my inability, as well as many a note sent home!

What is Compassion?

When the gushy parts in movies come along, I line up for the popcorn and soda machines.  I know I am not alone; sometimes, there must be 20 other people, not just men, standing out there making purchases and visiting the bathrooms.  I know I am a people watcher, so I can deduce there are more people than I who struggle with this concept.  Let’s discuss; maybe we can learn something and not be so uncomfortable.

I find the etymology of a word tends to bring enlightenment; the definition of compassion includes the following gem, deep awareness of other people’s suffering accompanied by a deep desire to relieve that suffering.  “Eyes that see and a heart that feels” is a saying the comes to mind to describe compassion as a noun.  However, as a verb, compassion means to pity, and pity as a verb is to reflect regret, sympathy, or sorrow with another person.  A word of warning, sympathy is very closely related to and often concealed by empathy. Where one is only dangerous to oneself when taken to extremes, the other is dangerous to all whenever practiced.

What is Empathy?

Sympathy v Empathy v ApathyEmpathy is all about acting like you understand another person’s emotions and you have a personal desire to share those emotions.  Empathy is fake; empathy is a choice one exercises in the attempt to control a person or situation through emotion.  Being empathetic is a skill set learned as a manner of defense or, for the more nefarious, to control others.  Empathy is nothing more than faking concern.  By encouraging empathy, a person with authority is looking to steal control over enough people to contain a group through that group’s emotional connections.  By choosing to be empathetic, control over the conscious emotional choices is given to someone else for momentary social gains.  Shift the social environment even slightly, and empathy becomes foolish.  Still, people will continue to look for something to emote about, even after being caught feeling ridiculous about being empathetic for social gain.

What is Sympathy?

Sympathy is a process of coming to a common feeling in a social setting or group.  The emotional pathway is journeyed by people or groups to feel the same emotions for someone else’s emotional state.  Sympathy is a most dangerous emotional tool, not for the one experiencing the sorrow or misfortune, but for those who jump in with the person feeling the sadness or experiencing adversity.  Understand, the sympathetic person attracts other sympathetic people, like moths to a flame or lemmings to a cliff.  I have met people in my travels who were so sympathetic with another person that they thought they had contracted cancer, become pregnant, or had an addiction to dangerous drugs.

Historical Etymology of Compassion

The following is quoted from the Online Etymological Dictionary to satisfy my inner nerd and explore the etymology further, and the link is provided above.  Latin compassio is an ecclesiastical loan-translation of Greek sympatheia.  Sometimes in Middle English, it meant a literal sharing of affliction or suffering with another.  An Old English loan-translation of compassion was efenðrowung.  “Com” word-forming element usually meaning “with, together,” from Latin com, archaic form of classical Latin cum “together, together with, in combination,” from PIE *kom– “besides, near, by, with” (compare Old English ge-, German ge-). The prefix in Latin sometimes was used as an intensive.  “Passion” c. 1200, “the sufferings of Christ on the Cross; the death of Christ,” from Old French passion “Christ’s passion, physical suffering” (10c.), from Late Latin passionem (nominative passio) “suffering, enduring,” from the past-participle stem of Latin pati “to endure, undergo, experience,” a word of uncertain origin. The notion is “that which must be endured.”

Wwwe-Buddhism Com if Your Compassion Does Not Include ...To the atheists, just because Jesus Christ is mentioned does not make something a religious discussion.  I find it interesting that passion, passio, is directly related to enduring and suffering of physical experiences of Jesus Christ.  Does this mean that a compassionate person is reflecting attributes of Jesus Christ?  If so, does this mean mortal beings can acquire godly attributes and still be mortals?  If not, to what should mortals aspire?

Along the vein of etymology, feeding my inner nerd, and discovering insight into compassion, I went looking for actions that reflect compassion, adjectives describing compassion.  The foremost adjective for compassion is compassionate; how very intriguing.  You look for concrete ways to act in a manner of compassion, and you are told to be compassionate; doesn’t this form a logic circle and a paradox?COMPASSION Is My STRENGTH Not a Sign of Weakness Dr Ronnie ...

Remember, a paradox includes two seemingly opposite points, which are opposites on the first reflection but, on further consideration, are more closely related than opposing.  In considering compassion and compassionate, we find the etymology important to understanding the relationship, physical suffering endured and experienced for others, or on another’s behalf.  According to the New Testament and other religious texts, we find this is the recorded mission of Jesus Christ.  IN the definition of compassion, we find mortals can possess a deep awareness of other people’s suffering and choose to have the awareness be accompanied by a deep desire to relieve that suffering.  But, what if the person with the awareness and desire does not have the ability; what do they do?  Are they less compassionate?  Do they somehow become reduced, heartless, uncaring, or judged for not giving when they do not have?

The answers from the different religions are fascinating on this topic, and if you belong to an organized religion, please feel free to discuss this topic with your Rabbi, Minister, Father, Preacher, Bishop, etc., Atheists, feel free to discuss this topic below and with your friends.  Those in less organized and non-standard religions do what I do, the absolute best you can, and leave the rest in the hands of people more capable.

Compassion Article and Quotes - Funny Stuff, Inspirational ...However, we still return to the core root of compassion; what is it?  From this point forward, I am going to express my limited knowledge and informed opinion.  I could be as wrong eating yellow snow in January, but here goes.

Compassion is being cognizant of the people around you.  See someone with their arms full; rush to open a door.  Offer a hand; better still, find a cart and help them fill the cart.  It’s raining, hold an umbrella—Pet a dog.  Sit down beside a stranger and listen.  See a puddle while driving, slow down, and drive throw without splashing the bus stop where someone is waiting for a bus.  See a sign asking for help, give without judgment; does it really matter what they will do with your contribution?  Say please.  Say thank you!  Say you’re welcome.  Manners matter.Compassion is the path... | Favorite movie quotes, Star ...

Modesty in speech, clothing, and behavior matters.  A friend of mine was fond of the following, saying, “Everyone can do something.  Pitch in!”  As a disabled person, I miss being part of that mentality.  I miss being able to “pitch in.”  Society tells me to stay away, we do not need you, “You’re disabled.”  See someone left out; find a way to include them.

If you question why you are doing something, keep doing it until the questions go away.  Never fear a question; fear not acting on something you feel is the right thing to do.  Want to see society change?  Start the change you want to see by exemplifying that change.  I am still not totally sure what compassion is; I know I want to help people.  I know my resources are limited, but my desire is great.  Let’s do something compassionate; if I understand compassion properly, let’s encourage one person today.  Even if that person is just you, be more encouraging to others.  Society needs more encouragement, needs more smiles, needs more humanity.

Father Mulcahy 2By the way, did you catch the news?  A huge cheese factory explosion occurred in France; da Brie is everywhere.  A large multinational response is underway.  The Kaiser is rolling Hamburgers, and the Danes sent fresh pastries.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.