Compassion doesn’t always mean being nice to people. Sometimes the best thing you can do in a situation is to be rough with someone. We have to be balanced in accord with each situation.
~~Gerry Shishin Wick Sensei, “Zen in the Workplace: Approaches to Mindful Management”
I usually post quotes that I agree with, that inspire me, touch me, etc.
This one did touch me, but not in the usual way.
I totally agree that being compassionate doesn’t always mean being nice.
That was a hard thing to learn as a young therapist so many years ago.
Compassion some times mean being honest, telling someone things they don’t want to hear.
I wanted to be a therapist because of the work of Carl Rogers.
I loved the idea of the therapist’s office being a safe place where the therapist and the client could come together, be honest, and genuine.
Imagine what it would be like to not have to keep up the pretenses, not have to wear the masks, etc.
So I guess you could say that my philosophy was WYSIWYG. . . What you see is what you get.
I don’t apologize for this either.
But then there is the next sentence of Sensei’s quote.
Sometimes the best thing you can do in a situation is be rough with someone.
What does that mean?
I don’t think there is ever a good time to be rough with someone…
Now, may Sensei means being honest, being congruent, “telling it like it is”. . . we can do all that with compassion.
But I don’t consider that being rough. Is there ever a time when we have the right to be rough with someone? I know that I have been at my job that I know have.
I get tired of programs not being run and people not being held accountable. But me getting “rough” with someone has never done me any good.
I have a friend who always says it’s all about the relationships and I tend to believe her.
That doesn’t mean I always take the time or muster the energy, but I think it’s something that I and all of us need to work toward.
There has never been a time that I got “rough” with someone, lost my temper, or did not temper my words with a deep breath, some restraint, or mindfulness that I did not regret the situation for a while after the scene.
So maybe this is a good koan to sit with for a while.
Can you be compassionate and rough?
What does rough mean?
Is there ever a time that we are justified in doing more than being honest and congruent?
What if being angry at someone or heavy-handed is what your feeling and therefore congruent.
What about things like Marshall Rosenthal’s Nonviolent Communication?
A lot of things to unwrap in this little package.
Would love to hear what you think.
Please drop a comment and share how this strikes you.
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