Until They Know How Much You Care.

June 26, 2021

Until They Know How Much You Care.

May 29, 2023

An Algorithm for Caring: Healing the World, One Caring Conversation at a Time. Theodore Roosevelt famously said, "Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

As a practicing psychiatrist for more than forty years focused on psychotherapy and the author of "Just Listen:" Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone, I have a personal mission of: Healing the world, one caring conversation at a time. That may not be possible in a single conversation, but we might be able to begin if we could turn transactional conversations into transformational ones, built upon caring for our fellow humans.

Certainly a nice idea whether that's from Teddy Roosevelt or me, but how do you put it into practice?

An Algorithm for Caring. It has six steps:

1. Listen = to listen with an open or beginner’s mind to what other people are saying with a focus on what they are listening for from you. This means having no agenda other than to truly get where they’re coming from and listening for when they are talking to you. You demonstrate this by hearing them out rather than interrupting them or changing the subject midstream.

2. Consider = to fully take in what they are saying. You demonstrate this especially by noticing emotionally charged words or increased intensity and asking them to say more about those.

3. Empathize = to try to understand what they’re feeling underneath what they’re saying. You demonstrate this by saying: "I can understand how that must have been/is/was ________ (frustrating/upsetting/angering/disappointing/exciting/etc.)"

4. Show Compassion = this goes beyond understanding how they feel to caring about how they feel by going deeper and then responding compassionately by saying, "How (frustrating/upsetting/angering/disappointing/exciting, etc.) was that for you?" Let them answer and then say, "That sounds awful/must have been hard/etc."

5. Invite and allow = you demonstrate this by pausing for two seconds after they express that and saying, "What does that all mean to you and what going forward if anything did or do you want to do because of that?"

6. Serve = you demonstrate this by asking, "How can I help you with that?"

This may seem artificial and awkward, but that is because we rarely and don’t naturally do it and almost never have it coming our way from others. However, with practice it will become more natural, more rewarding and then perhaps together we can all begin to heal the world, one caring conversation at a time.

Mark Goulston is a business psychiatrist, 'Marshall Goldsmith MG 100 executive coach, the author or co-author of nine books including, "Just Listen," which has been translated into 28 languages and the creator of Surgical Empathy.

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