1. START WITH YOURSELF
The best way to learn how to be compassionate toward others is through self-acceptance. As they say: you can’t learn to truly love others until you learn to love yourself.
Praise yourself for your successes (even with small things) and forgive yourself for your mistakes. By giving yourself this type of compassion, you’ll radiate the same love and goodness to others.
2. COMMUNICATE VERBALLY AND NONVERBALLY
Communication goes way beyond our words. One of the best ways of showing compassion is to use nonverbal cues to communicate that you care. Make eye contact, keep your body turned toward the person speaking, and listen quietly.
You might also practice active listening, which involves paraphrasing what you’ve just heard and asking open-ended questions. This conveys interest and understanding.
3. TOUCH (IF APPROPRIATE)
A gentle touch goes a long way (if the person is open to it). There is a wealth of research showing that physical touch (like a hug or pat on the hand) activates a part of our brain and can influence our reactions, thoughts, and physical responses. It helps demonstrate your genuine care and concern.
4. ENCOURAGE OTHERS
Sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement to show someone what they’re capable of. If someone you know is feeling down, one of the best ways of showing compassion is by offering encouraging words.
5. EXPRESS YOURSELF
Many people just need a listening ear when they’re going through something difficult.
You can still show your emotions and understanding through facial expressions and body language. A sincere smile often works wonders. It is also okay to show sadness by crying or to laugh without reservation. Even a good laugh can be incredibly healing.
6. SHOW KINDNESS
Whether you’re wondering how to show compassion in a relationship or in the workplace, one of the best things you can do is to show kindness. Kindness is contagious, and your kindness can spread in ways you’d never expect. The world is made better through your kindness.
7. RESPECT PRIVACY
How do you develop compassion for others who don’t seem to want your help? Offering your support privately is oftentimes all you need to do. Then a person may feel more comfortable to confide if they choose to.
If they don’t want to talk about the hard stuff, maybe they’d be open to a different kind of interaction. They may appreciate just going for a walk or to the movies with a friend.
8. LEARN HOW TO ADVOCATE
An advocate is a person who speaks up for and defends the rights of another person, helping them communicate their needs in a challenging situation.
To effectively advocate, you must actively listen to what your friend needs. Don’t march into a situation and try to fix something the person doesn’t want you to fix.
One of the best ways to cultivate compassion is through volunteer service. Volunteering connects you to others, giving you the opportunity to make new friends and increase your social skills. Spending time helping people is good for your body, mind, and soul.
10. CONSIDER YOUR WORDS
When you’re looking for ways to show compassion, always remember to think before you speak. It’s easy to say things you might regret. But at its heart, compassion is about paying attention to the present moment with a loving attitude.