The 3 C's of Compassionate Diversity
In my first article about Compassionate Diversity®, we covered why it’s different from other approaches. So, how does it work?
Meet Greg Smith and Amy Jo. Both live in Orlando. Amy Jo was homeless, and Greg passed her on the street every day on his way to work. Greg introduced himself, and they started meeting for monthly lunches. As trust grew, Greg learned that Amy Jo’s biggest issue wasn’t hunger. It was that she couldn’t read… and we all know what a detriment that is to finding a job. So, Greg taught her to read.*
The story of Greg and Amy Jo is a perfect example of Compassionate Diversity®. Compassionate Diversity® uses three interrelated concepts - Comprehension, Connection, and Compassion - to help you build empathy and create an action plan for addressing the issues that are a part of our current world.
At the Comprehension level:
- We can sympathize with others, but that’s about it. We can understand what they are going through, but we tend to lack any deeper connection.
- We have the best of intentions, but at this level, we tend to understand the issue only from our own perspective.
At the Connection level:
- We can begin to empathize. We understand, and we connect to experiences we have had. We begin to relate to the feelings of others, and as a result, enhance connection.
- In our efforts to connect, we tend to project our experiences on the other. We assume their situation is just like ours. But it isn’t. As a result, we may leave the other person feeling robbed of their experience or misunderstood.
Compassion is moving Comprehension and Connection into action.
- We can see from, value, and integrate the perspectives of others.
- We create more compassionate environments.
- We are able to develop more innovative and sustainable solutions in our communities and in our organizations.
At its most basic level, Compassionate Diversity is not just about others. It's about ourselves, too. We have to be able to comprehend, connect, and have compassion for ourselves before we can begin to understand how to do it for others.
So, how does this connect to Greg and Amy Jo? Let me repeat the story, with some color commentary:
- Meet Greg Smith and Amy Jo. Both live in Orlando. Amy Jo was homeless, and Greg passed her on the street every day on his way to work. (Comprehension: We all have our own ideas of what “homelessness” means. We can all imagine what it would be like if we were homeless.)
- Greg introduced himself, and they started meeting for monthly lunches. (Connection: Greg connected to Amy Jo’s positive attitude, and he introduced himself. They started monthly lunches, because we typically think that hunger is a primary concern when one is homeless.)
- As trust grew, Greg learned that Amy Jo’s biggest issue wasn’t hunger. It was that she couldn’t read… and we all know what a detriment that is to finding a job. So, Greg taught her to read. (Compassion: As their relationship grew in trust, Greg understood what was most important to Amy Jo - from her perspective - and he acted on that understanding.)
Have you heard any really great stories of compassion in action? How do you work to better understand the needs of others, rather than just projecting your own needs? Share your answers and comments below, or connect with me on social media!
* I’ve reached out to Greg to see if I could get an update on him and Amy Jo, as this story is 9 months old. I’ll let you know if I hear back!
© 2017, Susan McCuistion