Love and the W.E.C.A.R.E. Exchange
In the last few years, after reading several business books on communication and mindfulness in the workplace, I was inspired to put together a tool to create better attention, focus and, most importantly, understanding and compassion, that is easy to remember and can take place in any business or interpersonal setting. It strengthens your “emotional quotient” and promotes compassion and mindfulness without using the words “compassion” and “mindfulness” in the teaching mechanism.
This journey began when I watched a video by a man you may know named Chade Meng Tan. Meng, as he is called, is a former engineer at Google. While there, he developed a program that gives a person the “ability to train your attention, to bring your mind to a place that is calm and clear, and do this on demand.” The program grew into the “Search Inside Yourself Institute” and there’s a book of the same name.
Meng emphasizes a regular meditation practice to make mindfulness become more accessible in all aspects of our behavior, particularly our attitudes about ourselves and our encounters with one another.
Meng wants to create world peace, and he feels this is attainable. He said that the one of the only ways this is possible is by “making compassion profitable.” The large part of his focus is applying the “Search Inside Yourself” program in business settings in order to create inroads to a more peaceful world.
In part, after seeing his video and reading his book, that I began to develop my own strategy to enhance our attention at the point of contact between two people.
And, most importantly, I wanted to create a mechanism that is easy to remember without having to meditate daily for twenty minutes, yet receive the benefits while speaking and listening to one another (note: I think daily mediation is essential, but I know a lot of people that feel they don’t have enough time to include it in their daily routine. More about that in another essay.)
I also needed to make sure that the word “mindfulness” isn’t included in the acronym. Here’s why:
I saw a speaker from the Drucker Institute ask an audience how many people have mindfulness programs at their organizations. About a third of the hands went up. When he then asked how many people wanted one, the rest of the hands were raised.
The speaker then said he had spoken with a woman from Texas who happened to be a presenter at the program. She had developed mindfulness programs in businesses all across the country, but didn’t have one at her own firm. When he asked her why that was, she said, “I work in Texas. Enough said.”
It is here that I feel there is a gap that needs to be filled. If we are going to support Meng’s dream, it is important that we get every aspect of every company in the world on board. And we need to make it easy, without attending seminars, just a half day training on the mechanism and its uses, and follow up with a little bit of tweaking as needed.
The mechanism is called WECARE Exchange. W.E.C.A.R.E. stands for Watch, Experience, Connect, Assess, Respond, and Encourage.
In well over thirty years, I made my living as a social worker, a psychotherapist and consultant. At the first point of contact I had to engage that client, no matter their reason for our meeting. That client needed to know immediately that I was listening, attentive, and free of any judgment or predisposition, focusing on their heart, from mine.
Within that initial focus, within that first second, they needed to know that I was happy to see them and ready to listen to their issues, addressing their problems with kindness, understanding and acceptance.
The first point of contact that I engaged was, very simply, to “watch” them. And you can put whatever you like in that space: “look at,” “observe,” “see” “to be aware” all work just fine. I use the word “watch” because it seems to encompass all four of these, and most all people can relate to the word.
When you “watch” somebody, you look at them without judgement. Think of how you watch a sunset, watch the clouds, or watch the cars go past your window. It’s not something you’re assigning an expectation. You’re not hoping that the sunset has your favorite color, that the clouds are the shapes of circus animals, or the cars that fly past your window are all Pontiacs. Rather, you’re just there to watch. Just to look at what’s in front of you for the sake of looking. That’s it.
When you begin to “watch” something, you generally find yourself leaning into the expectation of goodness. I live in San Diego and I know several people who will hit the beach just to “watch the water.” They take that deep breath, sit back, and just hang with the ocean.
This is what “watch” facilitates. A very gentle connection between the watcher and the thing-or, in the case, the person-that is being seen.
When you are just watching somebody that is sitting down with you for a cup of tea, for instance, you’re being a little observant, but you’re mostly just seeing the face of somebody you care about, somebody that you want so spend time with. You’re just watching this person, looking at their expression, and, again, just enjoying the view.
This is, in essence, the spirit of “watch,” and it is usually preceded by a breath, but a breath that is drawn in as one of welcome. When you draw forth a breath before you speak, you’re almost reflexively relaxing into the moment. It happens frequently when we’re with somebody when we are beginning a conversation, we just don’t notice it much. We easily take a deep breath of relaxation, setting our body and attitude to one that’s relaxed, one that almost signals the welcoming of another.
You “watch” without expectation. You take a deep breath, you see the person in front of you, and look at them as you’re looking at the clouds or the sunset or the ocean. Just look. Just watch. No attachments, no judgements, no predisposed attitudes.
Just watch them, one person to another, initiating an invitation, and begin the process of understanding.
Next up: “E” for “Experience.”
By entrusting us with your feelings, we help you take steps that you see necessary to begin and put forth the energy to make the needed change.
Now notice something: Trust in a coach, mentor, or guide helps you see what's in front of you. We see a Coach for Your Heart a little like an emotional Sherpa, somebody that helps you climb your mountain by pointing out where to best step along the path.
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