Compassion Short: Seeking to Understand--Personalizing compassion

Dr. Shane Sinclair

July 7, 2021

Seeking to Understand, is often the forgotten ingredient in compassion. Whether it is our desire to move from understanding to fixing. Our assumptions that we already understand or better understand what a person actually needs. Or our blind acceptance of the widely held misconception that compassion is understanding what it would be like for us to be in another persons shoes. Without an understanding of both the person and how they optimally experience compassion, we are left tripping over someone else's shoe laces--rolling our ankles, and ruining their sneakers in the process-- leading to misunderstanding and mistargeted kindness as a result.

In this Compassion Short, we meet Daniel and his nurse Marjory, affectionately known as 'Little Nurse Nice'. Marjory quickly comes to realize that our expressions of compassion do not necessarily equate with people experiencing them as compassion.

Seeking to understand, is a critical juncture in the flow of compassion, involving attuning our expressions of compassion to how the person optimally experiences compassion through a process of acknowledging and understanding the person, discerning their individualized needs, and then tailoring compassion to who they are and what they actually need--not who we think they are or what we think they need.

Seeking to Understand-- A proactive desire to understand a person and their needs in order to provide compassion in a personalized manner.

- Free Open Access to the original Pediatric Compassion Model research article, can be downloaded from

- Illustrations and videography courtesy of Luca Li Digital Design

- Funding for this study was provided by C17 Research Council in partnership with Childhood Cancer Canada

- Visit the Compassion Research Lab at

- To learn or obtain the Sinclair Compassion Questionnaire (SCQ) visit

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