Helping With Compassion



A man and woman laying in bed smiling for the camera.

True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain but also being moved to help relieve it.

~Daniel Goleman

Guest post by Diane Plesset

Helping Others (and Ourselves) with Compassion

I asked Diane if she would contribute to the and she was all in…Diane and her husband Jay, are possibility thinkers and advocates of aging-in-place design. I suggest you get to know her and the work she does. Diane is leaving her mark on our industry and making a difference. Her goal is compassion, her method is design.


I Love to Help People

Whenever I meet someone, inevitably the subject turns to the question, “What do you do?” Yes, it’s interesting to know what someone does, how they got into their profession. For me, it’s more interesting to find out why they continue. What motivates and inspires them, especially in difficult times? It’s gratifying when someone says, “I love to help people”. The discussion usually expands with questions about how they help people, what deep pleasure they receive in return. Money never enters the discussion. These people have achieved a level of success that is greater than what they make.

Being authentic, and serving others authentically leads to trust, which is the foundation for honest communication and understanding.  How can we help people if we can’t communicate with them? We do run into people who have a hard time trusting anyone (including themselves). At times like these, I’ve learned recently in a book by Dr. Patrick Porter that mirroring their posture and pattern of speech can build a path to better communication and understanding. Dr. Porter admits that these techniques require a lot of practice and may get undesirable results. But it’s worth a try.

I’m not ready to try mirroring just yet. Dr. Porter explains this practice for one-on-one meetings. What if I’m meeting with partners? How easy (or difficult) is it going to be to establish which one is the decision maker, so I can mirror their behavior? Can’t see how it’s possible to mirror both partners without losing authenticity. No, rather than taking a chance on putting them off, I’d rather just be authentic. Here are the first-meeting rules I’ve followed for over 31 years:

Check my ego at the door. The meeting is about them and their needs.

Listen! don’t take notes during the meeting!

Make good eye contact.

Keep hands quiet, gesturing only to support important points.

Express genuine interest. Repeat what they’ve said as a segue to my next question.

Helping people and being authentic are great models for those of us in a service-oriented profession. Those two tenets can be concentrated to one word: Compassion.

I just discovered a book by Thupten Jinpa that I want to read very soon, “A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to Be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives”.  Mr. Jinpa has been the translator for the Dalai Lama for over 30 years, and he teaches a course in Compassion at Stanford University. His interview with Elizabeth Tenety in the May 14 issue of The Washington Post and the October issue of “Science of the Mind” magazine (article by Harvey Bishop) was very thought-provoking. Here are some highlights:

Mr. Jinpa says that compassion is action-oriented, and has three important steps:

Mentally, we know what another is going through.

Emotionally, we empathize with their pain and set an intention to do something to help.

At the motivational level, we act.

Without intention and action, there is no compassion. Mr. Jinpa says, “One of the most important gifts of compassion is that it gives you a sense of purpose.” He continues, “At the heart of compassion is the recognition of the basic humanity of each one of us. Our aspirations for happiness and wish to overcome suffering is what defines us. Compassion is what allows us to connect with anybody from any background at the fundamental human level.”

It’s not a weakness to say we love to help others. It doesn’t mean that we’re anyone’s door mat. As Mr. Jinpa says in his book, it takes courage to be compassionate. We need to be compassionate with ourselves first, so we can open up. “If we’re not operating within a mindset of fundamental compassion for our own struggles, he says, “then we don’t develop adequate resources within ourselves to be able to give more to others.”

Self-compassion is not self-pity, self-absorption or self-indulgence. If we just focus on others’ problems and needs all the time, we can lose ourselves which can lead to low self-esteem and low self-confidence. Actively practicing compassion for ourselves and others daily can maintain the balance that we need to keep going, doing what we love to do, without suffering burn-out.

Yes, I love what I do, and I love helping people.


A man and woman laying in bed smiling for the camera.

D. P. Design was established in April 1984 by Diane Plesset, CMKBD, C.A.P.S., NCIDQ, who felt strongly that every homeowner deserves to be treated as a special person, not just a number. She is passionate about helping people, using her talents, training, and experience. Her listening skills and attention to detail are phenomenal. D. P. Design strives to work with Homeowners, Contractors, and Suppliers to achieve the best results by maintaining honest, reliable communication, using the latest technology as a tool.

If you desire to remodel your kitchen or bathroom, or want an addition to your home, Contact Diane to get more information about how she can help you. Diane is the Author of “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling “which won the Pinnacle Award for Best How-to Book the year it was published.

Aging-in-place design with Frank Lloyd Wright Inspired “Evergreen” Home

Email: [email protected]


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