The Power of Compassionate Curiosity: A Journey of Understanding

September 27, 2023
Compassionate curiosity


In a world often marred by misunderstanding, intolerance and polarisation, there exists a profound antidote that has the potential to bridge divides, heal wounds and foster connection: compassionate curiosity (Pyles, 2020). This powerful combination of empathy and an inquisitive mindset allows us to approach others and their perspectives with an open heart and a desire to understand. In this blog, we will explore the concept of compassionate curiosity, its significance, and how it can be harnessed to create a more compassionate and empathetic world.

What is Compassionate Curiosity?

Compassionate curiosity can be defined as a genuine, empathetic interest in understanding the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of others, even when those perspectives differ from our own. It goes beyond mere tolerance or passive acceptance, encouraging us to actively engage with people and ideas that challenge our preconceived notions (Heriot-Maitland, et al., 2019).

Key Elements of Compassionate Curiosity:

Empathy: Compassionate curiosity starts with empathy, the ability to put ourselves in someone else's shoes and feel what they might be feeling. This emotional connection forms the foundation for deeper understanding (Barton & Garvis, 2019).

Open-Mindedness: It involves an open-minded approach, allowing us to suspend judgment and preconceptions. Instead, we focus on seeking to comprehend the reasoning and emotions behind another person's viewpoint (Filstad et al., 2019).

Willingness to Listen: To be truly curious, we must be excellent listeners (Heriot-Maitland, 2019). This means giving the speaker our full attention and creating a safe space for them to express themselves without fear of judgment or ridicule.

Asking Questions: Curiosity often manifests through asking thoughtful questions that delve into the motivations, experiences, and emotions of others. These questions should be genuine and non-confrontational, designed to foster dialogue and understanding.

The Significance of Compassionate Curiosity:

Fosters Connection: Compassionate curiosity creates a sense of connection and belonging. When people feel heard and understood, they are more likely to open up and engage in meaningful conversations (Waller, 2020).

Reduces Conflict: By approaching differing viewpoints with curiosity rather than defensiveness, we can reduce the likelihood of conflicts escalating. Compassionate curiosity allows for constructive dialogue and problem-solving.

Encourages Growth: When we are open to new perspectives, we have the opportunity to learn and grow (Miglianico et al., 2020) Compassionate curiosity can lead to personal and intellectual development as we gain insights from diverse experiences.

Strengthens Relationships: In personal and professional relationships, compassionate curiosity can lead to deeper connections and improved communication. It enhances trust and mutual respect.

Practicing Compassionate Curiosity:

Self-Reflection: Start by examining your own biases and preconceptions. Acknowledge that everyone has their own unique experiences that shape their beliefs.

Active Listening: When engaging with others, practice active listening. Pay attention not just to their words but also to their tone, body language, and emotions.

Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage dialogue by asking open-ended questions that invite people to share their thoughts and feelings. Avoid leading questions or those designed to prove a point.

Validate Emotions: Even if you don't agree with someone's viewpoint, validate their emotions. Empathise with their feelings, as this can create a more receptive atmosphere for understanding.


Compassionate curiosity is a powerful force for positive change in our world. It reminds us that beneath our differences, we share a common humanity. By cultivating empathy, open- mindedness and a willingness to listen, we can build bridges of understanding and create a more compassionate and empathetic society. It's a journey worth embarking upon, one conversation at a time, as we strive to embrace and celebrate our diverse world.

If you need any help and support in creating Trauma Informed environments, evaluating them or just a general chat about ‘all things Trauma Informed’, please get in touch with Lyndsay, our Working Together Lead at and our team will support you in your journey.


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Filstad, C., Traavik, L. E., & Gorli, M. (2019). Belonging at work: the experiences,
representations and meanings of belonging. Journal of Workplace Learning, 31(2), 116-142.

Heriot-Maitland, C., McCarthy-Jones, S., Longden, E., & Gilbert, P. (2019). Compassion
focused approaches to working with distressing voices. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 152.

Miglianico, M., Dubreuil, P., Miquelon, P., Bakker, A. B., & Martin-Krumm, C. (2020).
Strength use in the workplace: A literature review. Journal of Happiness Studies, 21, 737-

Pyles, L. (2020). Healing justice, transformative justice, and holistic self-care for social
workers. Social Work, 65(2), 178-187.

Waller, L. (2020). Fostering a sense of belonging in the workplace: Enhancing well-being and
a positive and coherent sense of self. The Palgrave handbook of workplace well-being, pp.1-

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