Cherish Potential and Possibility

Potential and Possibility

In a November 9th blog about her reflections after the elections, Ann Weiser Cornell wrote, “We need to cherish the sparks of potential and possibility in everyone and in every situation, while at the same time seeing what is in front of us.” What is in front of me is the challenge of:   1) Feeling compassion for the pain, fear, and anger that divide our communities, country and world into warring camps; 2) Remembering that all … Read more…

“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…

Listening and Questioning Tied to Empathy and Compassion

Listening and questioning, which we have been examining for the last five weeks, are actions we can take which are tied to empathy and compassion.  Both empathy and compassion seem appropriate for the season, so we wanted to delve in again with our post from November 11, 2015. Tina Turner’s 1984 Grammy Song of the Year asks “What’s love got to do with it?” It turns out that compassion—an element of love—has everything to do … Read more…

Cultural Corrosion

What are we to make of the horrifying events of last week? Two black men killed by two police officers and five police officers killed by one black man. Are there any words or gestures that are adequate or meaningful in the face of this increasingly destructive spiral of fear, anger and violence? New York Times Columnist Charles Blow wrote, “We must see all unwarranted violence for what it is: A corrosion of culture.” Perhaps the … Read more…

What’s Compassion Got To Do With It?

Tina Turner’s 1984 Grammy Song of the Year asks “What’s love got to do with it?” It turns out that compassion—an element of love—has everything to do with how we talk with one another. Is it a “second-hand” emotion as the song suggests? Compassion might sound like a surprising, even unnecessary, element in meetings. However, to solve complex issues, we need to converse and build relationships with people who have different life experiences and points … Read more…