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Is One Presidential Candidate More Respectful, Empathetic, Compassionate, and Kind Than The Other? Does It Matter?

We are in the final week of the race for the White House and some people are calling this the most important presidential election in recent history. This might be true. There is a pandemic happening and lives and livelihoods hang in the balance. I make an effort to talk about things that are happening in the world on this blog, and when I do so I also make an effort to be apolitical. It is absolutely essential to me that Century of Compassion and RECK for All are for ALL people, regardless of their political beliefs or affiliation.

Still, there seems to be a big difference in the candidates for president this year. And I wonder what the people who read this blog think about these candidates with regard to the values of respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness. I expect that some would say that one candidate does probably display more of these traits than the other. But I feel like even if people were willing to concede that their candidate displays fewer of these traits, they would also argue that these traits don’t matter all that much in a president.

What do you think? Where do you stand on this issue? Are the qualities of respectfulness, empathy, compassion, and kindness important in a president? Do they say something or anything about that person’s character? I would love to hear from people. Of course, my only condition would be that I would like to see people be respectful to one another in the comments.

This is what I would like to see more of: I would appreciate seeing more Americans having civil conversations with one another about the wellbeing of our nation. I would like to see all Americans working together for the betterment of our nation. Sometimes, it seems like we are a long way from that dream being a reality.

I invite people to chime in. I know people are really passionate about this election, but, again, please be respectful towards one another and the candidates.

Thanks!

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

RECK

Fauci Prescribes a Healthy Dose of Respect

In an article in the Los Angeles Times on Friday, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci addressed concerns that many Americans say they would not get the COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available. An article subheading entitled “Debunk false statements about vaccines with respect” states, “Fauci said there’s a hardcore group of anti-vaxxers ‘who, no matter what you do, you’re not going to change their mind.’ But there’s also another group of people who are against vaccines because, Fauci said, ‘they’ve absorbed misinformation.’ Fauci said people should not ‘denigrate, accuse or disrespect people who don’t want to get vaccinated if you feel you want to convince them to change their minds. If you could, in a way that’s [non-confrontational], give them the correct information, you may be able to win them over.'”

This statement from Fauci echoes a case I often make about attempting to win people over to your side – especially on social media. I regularly say that we are never going to be able to argue or shame people out of their positions. The way to win people over to your side is to focus on the positive benefits of your side of the disagreement. With time, we can often coax people over to our way of thinking.

The problem with blaming and shaming is that it doesn’t give people any wiggle room. And once people feel cornered they go into fight mode (and often double-down on their position). We are much better off to focus on the positive and work to coax people out of their corners. This is the approach I take with RECK for All on social media. I might point to a problem, but then I quickly shift to how we can best fix that problem through having respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness (RECK) for all people.

This is true of several aspects of this pandemic. Take mask wearing as an example. If we want to win people over to wearing masks then we need to keep selling them on all of the positive reasons why it is wise to wear a mask. After all, mask wearing helps to protect everyone. It is important for the greater good. Wearing a mask makes you a hero! (See what I did there?)

So, let’s keep focusing upon the positive. Keep working hard to win people over to your way of thinking by focusing upon its positive aspects and benefits. Because when you treat all people with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness everyone wins!

Love, RECK

How Do We Reduce the Hate?

As the United States presidential election enters the home stretch I am becoming increasingly alarmed by the high level of hatred I see present in our nation. It seems like as the election heats up so do people’s tempers and negative feelings towards their political foes.

As I was typing the headline for this post I imagined someone responding with the comment “GET RID OF TRUMP!” But that type of comment is exactly the type of thing I am referring to. I feel like I need to be honest and say that I don’t see all of the hatred coming from one side in this election cycle. There are people on both sides of the political aisle who like and follow our RECK for All page on Facebook, and I feel the upset of conservatives on our page who are aware of the hatred liberals have towards President Trump and feel as if it is directed towards them, too.

For my part, I wish to reduce the level of hatred in all people – no matter what their beliefs might be. Hate, as I see it, is part of the problem in this country. It causes us to become further polarized and seems to ignite a passion in people that causes a great deal of anger and vitriol. We need to work on ourselves. We need to let go of our hate.

As I see it, if we regard all people with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness, then it is impossible to hate anyone. We can oppose philosophies while maintaining a level of respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness for our fellow human beings – whoever they are and whatever they believe.

Let’s all make an effort – right now, while tension is at its highest – to cool our thoughts about one another. Recently, I wrote a piece about letting go of enimation, that can work here, too. We need to stop thinking of people as our enemies and imagining them doing all sorts of horrible things. We need to remember that we are passionate, because we all love this country. We all want to see the good old USA improve and become “a more perfect union.” We simply disagree about how to do it.

And then there is this. When we vilify people and paint them as evil, it marks the person. We need to learn to separate people from their ideology. Fine, you hate white supremancy. I get it. But we must learn to separate white supremacy from the people who exercise it. We need to allow room for people to grow. We need to keep in mind that people can change. We need to allow people to see the error of their ways and turn away from dark ideologies. People can change. People can give up white supremacy. That happens.

If you believe your ideology or belief system is better then make an effort to convince others of that. Sell the positive and ignore the negative. We simply must make an effort to let go of our hate or things are going to continue to get worse instead of better. Let’s make a greater effort to think of and view all people with respect, empathy, compassion and kindness. This will help us to see that people are just people and capable of change. Let’s all make a greater effort to love one another and do so properly.

Thank you and may you have peace.

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

compassion, empathy, kindness, Obliterate Hate, RECK, Well-Being

For Greater Inner Peace, Don’t Enimate!

Have you ever had such a difficult time with a person that you have come to think of them as your enemy? And then, almost unconsciously, you begin to imagine them doing all sorts of terrible things behind your back to sabotage you or actively do you harm. You start to imagine future scenes in which this person is being openly hostile towards you or picking a fight with you.

This can happen. We cast someone in the role of the enemy and then animate them in our minds doing all sorts of horrible things that might even cause us to begin the resent or dislike them more… or even actively hate them. I have coined a term to help describe this process of enemy animation: I call it “enimate” or “enimation.” We animate people in our imaginations as our enemies behaving like enemies.

I’ve done this before and I suspect we all have. We enimate people doing all types of terrible things that validate our negative feelings towards them. But what I’ve learned over the years is that this type of obsessive thinking is much more harmful towards me than it is towards the other person.

First of all, it’s not true! The person hasn’t actually done the things we are imagining them doing. And they probably never will. We are making these individuals into worse humans in our minds by eminating them into these terrible stereotypes which they are not. They are full human beings just like us with a full range of emotions who also want to be well liked and even loved and admired (possibly even by us).

Secondly, enimation is ultimately harmful to ourselves. It gets our blood pressure up and turns us into angry and resentful people. The next time we see the person we’ve been spending our time enimating they might even wonder what the heck they have done to make us so angry towards them! It’s unhealthy for us both physically and for our relationships.

Instead of enimating people who get us upset with them, we should actively work to think of them with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness (RECK). This will help us to calm down and it will help us find inroads to connecting with them. If you spend your time thinking of people with RECK instead of enimating them you will discover that the next time you see them you will suddenly have lots of positive things to say to them. You might even find yourself liking them and having better interactions with them.

So, don’t simply treat everyone you interact with every day with RECK, but also think of them with RECK. Imagine yourself being respectful, empathetic, compassionate, and kind towards them. You might be surprised how quickly this turns your relationships around and makes you feel more positive and happier.

With love.

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

empathy

Empathy is Essential to Effective Leadership

I spent 15 years in various leadership positions in the Entertainment Ticketing Industry and over those years I learned that one of my leadership super powers was the ability to anticipate reactions from staff teams and the public to various scenarios and plan in such a way as to respond to reactions before they occurred. For example, if we were going to roll out a new piece of software to our ticketing agents I would role-play in my mind the reactions of various team members and then put a plan in place to help ease anxieties, calm upset, and utilize certain team members who would grasp it easily.

This type of thinking also worked with our customers. If we needed to announce a change to an already ticketed event, I would anticipate the public’s reaction and have our agents prepared with answers to likely questions or concerns. If, for example, we learned that the headliner on a concert needed to cancel, I would make sure that my agents could list the artist or artists who would be stepping in to replace the headliner and a variety or reasons why they were a comparable substitute.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that much of this work involved empathy. In each case, it was my ability to put myself into someone else’s shoes and consider their needs and/or reactions that fueled this super power. And, being a voracious reader of nonfiction, I don’t need to rely solely upon my own experiences to support my claim. In his acclaimed leadership book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey’s fifth habit is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” In this section of his book he promotes the concept of “empathic listening,” which is to listen deeply to what another person is saying and make an effort to empathize with that person.

I found that after spending a good deal of time with my staff and practicing empathic listening with them regularly I got to know them pretty well and could anticipate their reactions to new things based upon previous experiences. Covey says, “Empathic listening is so powerful because it gives you accurate data to work with. Instead of projecting your own autobiography and assuming thoughts, feelings, motives and interpretation, you’re dealing with the reality inside another person’s head and heart.”

In his book Emotional Intelligence, Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, author Daniel Goleman goes so far as to argue that empathy is the root of morality. He shares the work of empathy researcher Martin Hoffman whose research supports the idea that “it is empathizing with the potential victims – someone in pain, danger, or deprivation, say – and so sharing their distress that moves people to act to help them.” Thus, a lack of empathy would cause a leader to ignore how people might react to a set of circumstances and thus lead their team or company down the wrong path.

In Goleman’s book, we learn that Emotional Intelligence is essentially the ability to sense other people’s emotions, empathize with them, and respond appropriately. He has an entire chapter entitled “Managing with Heart” dedicated to inspiring leaders to utilize empathy and act upon it. The chapter ends with the call, “As knowledge-based services and intellectual capital become more central to corporations, improving the way people work together will be a major way to leverage intellectual capital, making a critical competitive difference. To thrive, if not survive, corporations would do well to boost their collective emotional intelligence.”

In conclusion, it is our empathy that drives our ability to be proactive leaders. And in the end, isn’t that what an effective leader really is? Someone with the ability to visualize how a variety of scenarios might work out and choose the best one. So, be an empathetic leader, and rest assured that you will be an effective one.

 

 

Image: Copyright Getty Images