The Effects of Compassion

Kristen Uroda for NPR

In my research this month on all things compassion, I came across this NPR Invisibilia podcast: Flip the Script. It starts with a fascinating story of a man who comes to rob a family and yet ends up asking for a hug. The podcast goes on to talk about noncomplimentary behavior and how this shows up in the world.

Flip the Script shares what Chris Hopwood, professor from Michigan State University has discovered about noncomplimentary behavior: “Chris spends his life looking at how people interact with each other. And one of the things that he looks at is called noncomplementary behavior. So the basic idea is that people naturally mirror each other. So when someone is hostile to you, you are typically hostile back. Warmth begets warmth. And breaking this pattern – say, being really warm to somebody after they’ve been incredibly hostile to you – that is noncomplementary behavior. And according to Hopwood, it’s incredibly hard to do.” But some pretty powerful things happen when we do practice this behavior.

When we show compassion towards others some pretty amazing things happen. Just makes me wonder what discipline in our schools would look like if we took a noncomplimentary behavior approach.