Compassion as a Strategy

Compassion gets results far more readily than conflict.

A few years ago when I owned a house, the trash collecting service in my town was ok, but many weeks some things would be left at the driveway and wild animals (or sometimes my dog) would pick things out and leave garbage all over my lawn, which I would have to go outside and clean.

I wasn’t often home when this happened and I didn’t want to phone in a complaint without understanding what was going on.

So, instead, before going to work one morning, I hand wrote a quick thank you note to the trash service workers who collected my trash and attached a 10$ bill to it with a statement that read that I wanted to buy their coffee for them and thank them for their work – not mentioning the issues I’d been having with the service.

I did this at a time when I was in the process of filing for bankruptcy and working 7 days a week, and even tho I knew I was losing a much-needed meal giving up that 10$ at that time, something inside told me it was the right thing to do with it.

And I wasn’t disappointed. I came home that night after having worked 2 jobs on the same day and found that not only had everything been collected, but my bins had been returned to my front door for me by the trash servicemen.

From that day forward until I lost the house to the bank, the yard remained clean, and I never had an issue with the service from that point forward.

When there’s a problem, our default is conflict, even tho deep down we know that approach probably won’t work.

But if we move to understand first, we can see a bit more clearly and make different choices – like showing compassion first to solve a problem, even if it means a degree of personal sacrifice to make that possible.

Nobody likes picking up smelly trash to feed themselves and their families – I’ve since worked at a dump to support myself through the pandemic, so I know even more about that now than I did then.

And if we start there, by recognizing other people first, we can solve almost any problem.

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