Compassion doesn’t need to show in grand acts of kindness. Sometimes, it can show up in little gestures, which we overlook.
They may be easy to miss, but rest assured, there are more compassionate people around you than you think!
So, what makes a compassionate person stand out?
Here are 8 signs to look out for.
1) They listen actively
There’s a difference between listening and listening actively. One takes a lot more effort and not many are willing to put in the time to do so.
Compassionate people care. They want you to feel heard and seen. When you’re speaking to them, they set aside any and all distractions – you may not even see them reach for their phone during the conversation.
Ever felt like someone is far away even though they’re right in front of you, “listening” to what you have to say? You’ll never get this when you’re talking to someone who is very compassionate.
They’ll nod, shake their head, and may even add words of affirmation or disagreement to show that they’re invested in your stories.
Depending on the situation, they’re able to adapt their responses as well. If you need a listening ear, they’ll reserve their suggestions or solutions.
But if you need feedback on something, they’ll share their thoughts from a place of concern and care.
2) They express their gratitude even for the little things
Nowadays, it’s hard to find someone who is generous with their ‘thank yous’, but very compassionate people are always ready to express their gratitude for the help they receive, whether it’s big or small.
People may overlook or take simple acts of kindness for granted, such as opening the doors for others or praising a coworker for a job well done.
Once, a coworker I didn’t really know needed some stationery for a presentation. She walked through the office asking people if they had what she needed. I did, so I handed it to her, not really expecting anything afterward.
In fact, I’d forgotten all about our interaction after a few hours. At the end of the day, we bumped into each other in the lift and she was very appreciative of what I thought was a simple thing.
What sets very compassionate people apart is how they make you feel.
3) They are understanding and patient
Being understanding and patient may seem like basic characteristics of someone who’s generally a decent person, but you may be surprised to find out that most people aren’t like that.
As our pace of life gets faster, people become less patient and understanding. However, compassionate people prioritize the feelings of others. They can empathize with the other person, understand where they’re coming from, and forgive where reasonable.
This is not to say that they’ll overlook their own feelings to accommodate the other person’s actions, but they’ll show a lot more kindness than the average person.
4) They are non-judgemental
Compassionate people refrain from passing judgment when they listen to others. They’d rather get the full picture and understand where the other person is coming from first.
They believe that there are two sides to every story and will try to piece together a holistic overview of what transpired. Rather than criticize, they offer words of kindness and try to be there for that person.
This is not to say that they blindly support everyone that they meet. Wherever possible, they try to get differing views and perspectives on the same situation.
5) They advocate for others
Honestly, this doesn’t have to be a big show of support as well. It can be seen in the little things.
For example, when everyone’s criticizing someone in a group chat, they respond differently. They talk about the other person’s positive aspects as well.
Or when they’re at a meeting and the presenter is fending off difficult questions from the attendees. They’ll ask a question that enables the presenter to display their knowledge and gives them the opportunity to prove themselves.
I genuinely admire when compassionate people do this because they don’t have to do it. They just choose to be kind.
6) They are selfless
And this is because they’re naturally selfless. They want people around them to feel good about themselves. In turn, these acts of kindness brighten their day as well – so it’s really a win-win for everyone!
They’re willing to offer their support to those who need it.
And it can be something really small, like holding the door open for someone, speaking to someone who’s alone at a gathering, or even offering a smile to people they see on the streets.
You’ll never know what people are truly going through. The person riding on the bus next to you may be having the worst possible day, and just a smile can go a long way in making them feel just a little bit better.
Honestly, little acts of kindness don’t require much from a person. Smiles, compliments and even a simple ‘hello’ doesn’t take much effort. But one needs to be willing to do these.
7) They respect boundaries
While this should be a given, it’s sad how not many people are willing to respect another person’s boundaries.
Compassionate people know when to pull back to avoid intruding into the lives of another person. The last thing they’d want to do is make the other person uncomfortable. Instead, they’ll give them space.
We don’t owe everyone an explanation. Sometimes when we choose not to do something or we disagree with another person’s views, we get pressured to offer an explanation. But the truth is, that you don’t have to.
And compassionate people understand this. They accept that people are different, have their own preferences in navigating the world, and respect this.
8) They’re supportive
This is foundational to why compassionate people behave the way they do. They want to show their support for others because they know how this will make them feel.
When you’re facing challenges, they’re there to offer words of encouragement. It may not be obvious, but they’ll show up in small but meaningful ways.
When you need a listening ear, they’re there to listen without judgment.
The thing about them is that they don’t do it for the approval of others, which is why it’s easy to overlook their simple acts of kindness.
Truly compassionate people don’t wish to make a show out of what they do. They don’t need validation or attention.
If they’re able to make the other person just a little bit happier or brighten their day, that’s more than enough for them.