Compassion first, then Communicate

Bringing our hearts into leadership allows us to tap into empathy to express compassion first then follow with communication that a team member is more likely to not just hear but receive and take on.

Love and Logic is a parenting philosophy founded in 1977 by Jim Fay and Foster W. Cline, M.D. I’ve been an avid fan and follower since my son was born; I now turn to it once again in the midst of the teenage years (I think toddlers are easier!)

Even now however I can forget the primary rule of ‘empathy followed by consequences’ or what I call ‘Compassion first; then Communicate’ for business. 

Our son had been pushing for another MA15+ violent video game and this has pressed my values button many times.  After receiving two games that stretched my boundaries, he once again asked for another and received a firm but gentle ‘no’. The inner urge of a teenager to push the boundaries and break into their own independence kicked in and he reacted…and so did I:

Here are the mistakes I made: (yes there was more than one!)

  1. I did not recognise or honour that he was in a state of reaction – fight or flight had kicked in and he was in fight mode.
  2. I did not recognise my own diversion from cortical thinking and that I too was in a state of reaction.
  3. At no point did I stop, breathe and make a choice to get out of reaction, instead I offered countless rational reasons without one dose of empathy first.

Needless to say, it did not end well for either of us.  The flashpoint between parent and ‘man-child’ ignited and silence and withdraw followed.

When we deliver empathy first, the person feels the compassion of being heard and understood; they are therefore able to hear either the consequences for their actions, or the direction you wish to give them for them to act upon.

At the end of the day it’s about keeping relationships healthy, open, and functional. Bringing our hearts into communication will soften any blow and settle any storm brewing so that equal, respectful communication can follow.

Can you recall a time when compassion first, then communicate would have served you well and brought about a different outcome?

Robbi Mack

24 Koorangi Avenue, Elanora Heights, NSW, 2101