There are many different ways to show compassion for others; however it has to come from the heart. Compassion is an emotion felt within ourselves; the desire to ease the suffering and pain of those around us. It is very important to be open-minded and not judgmental when showing compassion. Ignore differences and find commonalities to help you relate to what someone else is going through. You can show compassion to a patient, student, family, or acquaintances in these ways:
1. Communication (Verbal and Non-verbal) & Active Listening. Always make eye contact, listen without interrupting, and be able to paraphrase or reiterate what you have heard by acknowledgement and asking open-ended questions. The key is to listen.
2. Be Empathetic. Empathy is the capability to appreciate, understand, and accept other people’s emotions. To show genuine interest and concern for their feelings, reflect and validate what was said. Offer personal support by asking what you can do to help. Most people don’t want or expect you to come up with a solution to their problem. Mostly people are just seeking someone who understands.
3. Touch (if appropriate). A gentle touch goes a long way. Gentle touch assists in balancing your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. A soft rub/touch to the hand or shoulder throughout the conversation ensures that you have genuine care and concern for them.
4. Be Encouraging. When we praise and encourage others we can sometimes kick-start a positive spiral of behavior in that person. Positive reinforcement is always helpful to a person who is thinking they are either stuck or will never get out of the circumstances they are in at that moment.
5. Show Emotion. Unexpressed emotions affect your life. Make sure your verbal and non-verbal emotion is a match. Use genuine facial expressions to let them know you understand what they are going through; a sympathetic or sincere smile often works wonders. It is also okay to show sadness through your tears or crying. Laugh without reservation. A good laugh can be incredibly healing. Do not stifle your joy.
6. Show Kindness. Kindness is contagious. The person you are being kind to benefits through your help. You feel good for having helped someone. And the world is a better place through your kindness. Carry out acts of kindness without expecting anything back.
7. Show Concern for Privacy. Have a concern for the person’s personal privacy as well as their physical needs. Protect their dignity. Shut the door, pull the curtain, and don’t gossip.
8. Be an Advocate. An advocate is a person who speaks up for and defends the rights of another person by assisting them to help communicate their needs to the right person. Helping them find appropriate resources and solutions in the community. Helping them coordinate with other professionals. To effectively advocate you must actively listen to what others have to say, be prepared and organized, communicate clearly, and be assertive, yet respectful and polite.
9. Volunteer. Cultivate both compassion and good karma through volunteer service. Volunteering connects you to others while you make new friends and contacts, and increase your social and relationship skills. Volunteering is good for your body, mind, and soul. Volunteering increases self-confidence, combats depression, and helps you stay physically healthy.
10. Show Respect & Consideration. Respect can be demonstrated from all of the above actions. Don’t forget to turn your cell phone off when having a personal encounter where you wish to show the act and art of compassion. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Open doors for people, engage in polite conversation. Never interrupt. Send thank you notes when people send gifts or do big favors. Take someone to lunch. Give credit to people where it is due and never steal things or ideas. Always be culturally sensitive; always show consideration for cultural and religious beliefs, even if they differ from your own. Avoid thoughtless words; avoid sexist, racist, or offensive gestures or jokes. It means thinking before you do or say anything.
As you can see, compassion arises through empathy and is characterized through actions. Compassion is an essential part of everyday life. Scientific studies have proven that showing compassion can have physical benefits. The simple act of showing compassion can make a world of difference in someone’s day. Compassion is the greatest form of love humans have to offer.