“Compassion” Our Way Forward

Compassion is a verb

After the November 8 election, I sent a dear friend an email asking about what he might be feeling or thinking. He began his response with, “I really believe we can only ‘compassion’ our way forward.” After astutely turning this noun into a verb, he continued, “We have to be the ones to try and make democracy compassionate and caring.” In previous postings, building on the work of Daniel Goleman, I have described various types of … Read more…

We Are The World. Lets Start Talking.

I had been considering what to write in this first blog of 2017 when Roger James (my husband and business partner) showed me this 32-years-ago video.  It sings everything I want to say with one slight yet significant addition. In addition to giving money to the causes we care about, let’s start giving by listening deeply to each other with empathy and compassion, especially to those who differ from us in race, gender, ideology, class, … Read more…

Third Doorway to Compassion

Emotional Empathy

In the last two blogs we explored two forms of empathy: cognitive empathy (understanding another’s perspective) and empathic concern (sensing what another needs). This week we look at the third and final form of empathy identified by Daniel Goleman: emotional empathy or feeling what someone else feels.   Feeling what another feels is a natural part of being human. When babies hear another baby cry, they start crying. After about 14 months of age, not only do … Read more…

Second Doorway to Compassion

Empathic Concern

Last week we looked at how cognitive empathy (understanding another’s perspective) can help you navigate difficult conversations during the holiday season. This week we explore another kind of empathy to help you through gnarly holiday gatherings: sensing what others need or what Daniel Goleman calls  “empathic concern.” This second doorway gets us one step closer to compassion. If you understand what others are saying with cognitive empathy, you can then sense what they might need. … Read more…

Doorways to Compassion

Cognitive Empathy

As you gather with your family and attend holiday parties, empathy and compassion can help you navigate the difficult conversations that are bound to occur in the aftermath of the year’s destructively contentious election season.  (Even if everyone agrees to avoid talking about politics, fear and anger can be easily rekindled.) To open the doorway to compassion with our family, friends and coworkers, we need, at the very least, to understand people’s perspectives or have … Read more…

Focus on Listening by Clarifying

listening by clarifying

Today is the fourth and last in a series of posts examining the skill of listening and its importance to meaningful work in groups.  I originally discussed listening in a post about a year ago which you can find here. The first week I wrote that listening requires us to quiet our minds. The second week I offered physical postures that support and convey an attitude of attentive listening. The third week I suggested ways to test … Read more…

Focus on Listening by Restating

Over the past two weeks I have been revisiting listening, a skill I examined in a blog post a year ago. Listening is critical for productive group problem solving. Two weeks ago, I wrote about quieting our minds so we can focus on the person speaking. Last week, I explored behaviors that we can adopt to both support our focus and encourage the speaker to speak by showing a listening posture. This week, I submit … Read more…

Good Intentions Do Not Pardon Bad Impact

We tend to judge ourselves by our intentions and judge others by their impact on us. In other words, we think we have good intentions and that our impact on others should be perceived as such. When someone else’s impact on us is negative, we may assume their intentions are bad. Intentions and impacts are often not clear. First, our intentions don’t always have the impact we intend. We can’t assume that what we intended … Read more…