Aug Try This Photo by Maureen_small

Caring. Empathy. Compassion

You expect it in hospitals. You expect it among families. Do you expect it at the office? I do.

From some stories I’ve been hearing from my friends, apparently not everyone does. A case in point: A woman found out that her mother had a heart attack and had been hospitalized so she immediately made plans to be with her. She was unable to follow-through on some immediate work commitments, including putting the finishing touches on a presentation to be given by her manager the next day. When she let her manager know she needed to drive north that afternoon, his very first question was who would finalize the presentation. No acknowledgement of the woman’s personal situation, nor any expression of concern for her.

Caring, compassion, and empathy are fundamental ingredients in business. Why? Because people are business: people create businesses, people run businesses, people generate value from businesses. And, because the people that create, run, and generate value are human beings who want to make a difference, to feel connected, to know they matter, to be acknowledged, valued, appreciated.

Try This!
I’ve found myself wondering if the way I behave shows people that they matter and exploring what happens when I focus on the people with whom I engage. Whenever I find myself interacting with someone else, whether it’s an impromptu conversation, instant message exchange, a telephone call, a virtual meeting, or a group gathering, I’ve been asking myself the questions below. Maybe you want to join me in this Caring Challenge?

  • What impact am I having on the other person?
  • What experience am I creating for the other person?
  • Am I really listening to the other person?
  • How can I acknowledge the other person?
  • How can I show my appreciation for the other person?

I’m finding that showing I care requires a willingness to be vulnerable and courage to share my feelings. It also requires a level of trust that being human will have even more powerful results than an unrelenting push on the task at hand. I’m supported by the belief that the time I invest in being with another person and finding out how they are feeling and what’s important to them will open possibilities and together we will go even further than I could have imagined. I believe in the value of that place of caring where people find grace, peace, and comfort that lets them move forward.

Word Cloud
I got to wondering what makes someplace caring, empathic and compassionate, what it takes to create such a place, and what’s possible in such a place. The word clouds below capture some of my ideas. I found the result inspiring and empowering. What do they say to you?

Compassion Table

Quotes to Contemplate

  • Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have. ~Margaret Mead
  • Caring about others, running the risk of feeling, and leaving an impact on people, brings happiness. ~Harold Kushner
  • We have the power to befriend and strengthen the life in one another and to change the world, one heart at a time. ~Rachel Naomi Remen
  • The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another. ~Thomas Merton
  • In seperateness lies the world’s great misery, in compassion lies the world’s true strength. ~Buddha
  • Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. ~Dalai Lama
  • Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too. ~Frederick Buechner
  • A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside. ~Denis Waitley


Click on the link below to access the August calendar featuring highlights from this post.

August 2013 Caring Try This! Calendar

© copyright Vicki L. Flaherty, Leading With Intention, 2013

Photo by Maureen Monte (

Author: Vicki L Flaherty

I am most alive when I am creating, whether through writing, photography, gardening, cooking, crafting, sewing, yoga. I enjoy traveling because it opens me to greater awareness and new possibilities. I find a special joy when I’ve helped someone see their brilliance and express their full potential. As I've focused on living more mindfully, I've found special joy in expressing myself through poetry and photography, and in truly being in relationship with those I meet along my journey.

16 thoughts on “Caring”

  1. Dear Vicki,
    100% agree on your viewpoints. Inspirational food for thought….
    – and I have btw longterm clearly sensed that your behavior absolutely do make people feel they matter 🙂

  2. Dear Vicki,
    No more wondering if the way you behave shows people that they matter.
    This quote from Maya Angelou is especially for you:
    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
    Yesterday afternoon I opened your e-mail and you had found just the right words I needed to read. Reading your kind words, you made me feel that I matter.
    Thank you for being a friend!

  3. I wish every manager was forced to read your posts. Maybe they would learn a little about being human and being humane. Thanks for the honing in on important stuff that people really should work on in the office. No work is more important than the person doing it. – Lorian

  4. Hi Vicki,
    This is a really wonderful question you are asking and one I’ve pondered for a while. In essence companies charter/mission/intention is to maximize stockholder investment, which doesn’t seem to leave much room for caring/compassion. I do believe there is a path for both – caring/compassion can help drive business results. It may require a new business paradigm – which the collective “we” are still on the journey of figuring out. Just some of my musings…

    1. Rich, I agree that the formula that drives the greatest success includes caring and compassion – without it there are limits on the success that’s possible. I don’t see how long-term shareholder value can be consistently generated without careful focus on the people. Love our intermingling musings…

  5. Excellent ! You have tied together qualities and show how by recognizing and acting on these we can achieve great results. Good for life and good for business! Thanks!

  6. Vicki,

    Great blog!!

    This blog is priceless for all managers and aligns with our value to have “trust and personal responsibility in all relationships.” There is a misconception that being strong means to hide your feelings, don’t use “fluffy” words, and don’t get personal. Actually, this is an act of self-betrayal and antithetical to the definition of a strong manager. Actually, showing compassion is one of the greatest traits of a strong manager. Showing compasssion and caring for people does not make a manager appear weak. Being a strong manager is exactly what Vicki mentioned above, because managers are dealing with PEOPLE in every case. People have needs, desires, and wants. The only way to connect with PEOPLE is to “show personal interest” by caring, empathizing, and being compassionate.

    Warm Regards,

    Jennifer Paylor

    1. Jennifer, I love this: “showing compassion is one of the greatest traits of a strong manager” and this “The only way to connect with PEOPLE is to “show personal interest” by caring, empathizing, and being compassionate.” Of course, I am not at all surprised we have a similar view on this topic! Thank you for sharing.

  7. I enjoyed your post as always, Vicki. You are one of the most compassionate persons I have ever met and I find myself learning a lot from you. Some of us, including myself, may feel compassion and caring but have difficulty expressing that or finding the right words because we didn’t have examples, while growing up. Being around people with these qualities allow us to feel at ease and to return those caring gestures to others as we come out of our protective shells to ‘connect” with the other person. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us.

    Mary S.

    1. Oh, Mary, thank you for sharing that with me. When I think of you, I think of caring and compassion. You were just the heart and friend I needed way back nearly 2 years ago at that first yoga class! I am so glad to call you my friend.

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