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13 Things Only Compassionate People Would Understand

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13 Things Only Compassionate People Would Understand

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama

You probably know several compassionate people. How come they act in such a loving, caring way towards others? What is their secret and can we get inside the mindset of a compassionate person? Here are 13 things they do without even thinking about it.

1. They do not think that money is so important

Studies show that the more money people make, the less compassionate and generous they become. They will always think twice about giving small change to a beggar. A compassionate person will do this spontaneously. It is interesting to note that the word ’get’ has always been used more in the written language than the word ‘give’ in America since 1800.

2. They expect nothing in return

 “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” – Samuel Johnson

True acts of compassion mean that they will give a member of their family $50 without expecting any favors in return. Most people would immediately start thinking about how this could be repaid, even in kind. The great thing about showing compassion is that there is a sort of hidden bonus. Compassionate people experience a release of the hormone oxytocin when they do an act of kindness. They are usually rewarded with healthier and happier lives and it often costs nothing at all!

3. They are great listeners

They are prepared to listen and hear out a person even though they may not have a ready solution. The real compassion is allowing a person to vent their feelings, rage and frustration. Having a sympathetic ear is very important for them and helps to alleviate their suffering, rather than keeping it all bottled up inside. Being compassionate also means giving the person their full attention instead of waiting for a pause when they can jump in and air their own views. This is one of the challenges of being an active listener.

4. They are prepared to give negative feedback

Showing empathy and compassion also means being able to tell a person that they need to try harder or make a greater effort at work. Not an easy thing to do. The compassionate person can do this by asking questions which will help the person to discover what went wrong. A typical one would be, “What went wrong with the plan?” or “What were the difficulties you had not envisaged?” It is always a good idea to start with positive feedback which should outnumber the criticism by about 5 to 1.

5. They are able to find commonality with others

Experiments have actually shown that when people feel that they have more in common with each other, they become more compassionate. It could be thinking that the person you meet is seeking happiness and has known sadness, just like you. It could be more banal such as liking the same local restaurant, following the same football team or tapping to music with the same rhythm. Commonality increases compassion that people may feel for each other and helps them to reach out to help. David DeSteno of Northeastern University has conducted some interesting research on this.

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6. They want to share their knowledge

They never keep their knowledge, experience and wisdom to themselves. They are prepared to teach others to learn from their expertise. That can empower people to do better, go further and develop, whether in the workplace or in the home. Truly sharing without expecting anything in return is a marvelous quality.

7. They are emotionally intelligent

When you have a high emotional intelligence quotient (EQ), you are able to picture and almost feel what another person is suffering or lacking. This is what we call emotional intelligence and is a key factor in almost every type of human relationship. Compassionate people have a high EQ because they are mainly more self-aware of their actions and can also empathize much more effectively. If you have a high EQ, you are able to navigate life much more successfully.

8. They notice people in need

In Daniel Goleman’s TED talk, he tells the story of how most people are so self absorbed that they live in an urban trance and fail to notice or act when people are in need. He was in the subway and noticed a man slumped on the steps. There were hundreds of people stepping over him. It was only when Goleman acted and offered to help the man, that many other people stopped too and offered food and help to this person who had fainted because of starvation. Compassionate people, like Goleman, will always be the first to act and lead the way.

9. They practice self-compassion first

Compassionate people are experts in accepting their own pain, suffering and loss. They are never too hard on themselves and hope that by accepting their own shortcomings and failures, they can be more serene. This is an essential element in self awareness too. Compassionate people learn to be more caring towards others when they practice it on themselves first. This is another great advantage of being compassionate.

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10. They are hard wired to do good

There has been lots of debate about whether compassion is just a rather pedestrian emotion for the do gooders on this planet or whether it is innate. Fortunately, most research now supports the latter view. The philosopher Kant was not convinced though.

“Such benevolence is called soft-heartedness and should not occur at all among human beings.” – Emanuel Kant

It is well known that there are biological and physiological changes in the body systems when we actually do good or treat people kindly. Compassionate people are perfect examples of this and illustrate that they are the models to follow.

11. They know how to use touch

Research seems to now suggest that the use of touch can convey compassion when verbal cues are impossible. The warmth of touch to encourage, soothe and comfort a sick or grieving person are extremely important. It is also an evolved part of our human nature. Compassionate people use touch intelligently and they know that ‘touchy feely’ can be extremely effective and therapeutic.

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12. They are even compassionate towards those who mistreat them

The truly compassionate person knows instinctively that when he or she is treated badly, they need to withdraw. Anger and other negative emotions are useless. This is extremely difficult to practice. They start to think instead of what the person was going through, what they were suffering and what mood they were in. Once they understand this, they can think of the times that they themselves mistreated somebody and reflect on how important it is not to react with anger but, rather, with compassion and kindness.

13. They will change the world

Now that we know that compassion is truly just another aspect of being human, let’s try and go out and make the world a much better place. Compassionate people will lead the way by making the workplaces, schools, hospitals and public offices more caring and compassionate places. Let’s get out there and just do it!

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama

Featured photo credit: Young attractive girl with her pet dog via shutterstock.com

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More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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