General Question

Spinel's avatar

Is it best to treat new acquaintances with compassion or skepticism?

Asked by Spinel (3220points) January 3rd, 2010

I have an overactive sense of compassion (for lack of better terms) – and I have been made a sucker many times because of it.

Instinct tells me to be more reserved with it around unfamiliar people – even if they appear to be hurting. I’ve tried it, but I always feel guilty or get the impression I am behaving cruelly during and after.

Keep in mind, I’m not trying to brag here or even gain pity. Its a serious problem that has been bothering me for awhile. I would really appreciate some advice on which direction to go.

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17 Answers

loser's avatar

I’d rather live in a state of compassion. I’d rather risk injury than be on my guard all the time.

Pazza's avatar

With compassion, but never let your guard down untill you know them well enough.

Excalibur's avatar

I think you have the right attitude. You are a kind person and kindness is a wonderful thing in a world so full of hatred and jealousy. I think you can be as considerate as you like but don’t share your secrets and too much of your personal life with them.

Grisaille's avatar

Empathetic with a sharp, skeptic sense.

It never hurts to be internally skeptical. Doesn’t mean you reserve empathy, kindness and compassion.

scotsbloke's avatar

I have this attitude with people I meet for the first time (both in the real world and here on t’internet)
EVERYONE get’s the benefit of the doubt, EVERYONE is treated as a nice, caring, compassionate person UNTIL they prove otherwise.
I make a concentrated effort NOT to judge people untill I get to know them.
I may have preconceptions about people but everyone deserves a chance, dont they?
I kinda feel if I treat people that way, maybe, just maybe they will treat me that way too, well until I put my great galloping tootsies in my own mouth that is!

Compassion – then skeptisism – then throw mud pies – in that order.!

Spinel's avatar

@scotsbloke really liked the passion on your answer, it really stands out (in a good way for a good answer).

cookieman's avatar

This is something I struggle with constantly. I really want to approach everyone with compassion, and try hard to do so. Unfortunately, I am very cynical and it’s not long before I start thinking they are up to something or have an angle they’re playing.

I was never so mistrusting. It’s the byproduct of events of the past decade or so. I’m working on it though.

That being said, I think you have to strike a balance. It’s never good to be a patsy.

My friend once said, approach everyone with arms wide open and fists clenched.

lovemypits86's avatar

i treat them with compassion but i am reserved

Harp's avatar

Compassion is always the way to go, but you have to understand the real nature of compassion. Compassion is both a sense and a desire.

The sense aspect is the ability to understand the state of mind of another, to have an instinctive feel for their motivations and attitudes. Someone who’s skilled in compassion is not only sensitive to the plights of others, but can tell when others are being deceitful or have bad intentions.

The desire aspect is the desire for the well-being of others. That doesn’t always mean giving others what they want. If some guy asks for money to fuel a drug habit, the compassionate action will not be to give him the money. That’s an extreme example, but quite often, compassion requires saying “no”.

daemonelson's avatar

Although I try to be more neutral on a basis of gender, I just can’t help but be nice to females and somewhat standoffish to males.

I’m trying to get to a state of all-round neutrality. Despite how naive that is.

ubersiren's avatar

90% compassion and 10% skepticism.

Allie's avatar

I think it’s best to assume that people are decent. If I’m meeting a new person I’m friendly to them. Even if I’ve heard things about them from other people, I would rather take my time and form my own opinion (maybe a bit more cautiously if what I’ve heard was bad, but still open minded). In general, I’m nice to people unless they give me a reason to treat them differently.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I feel it’s better to let yourself feel compasson more than skepticism but when someone asks of you then it’s on to a different path.

Silhouette's avatar

Start with compassion and if they give you reason to be skeptical be skeptical. Compassion is never wasted. I’d rather be a fool than a cold, scared stone. That said, I have a healthy dose of skepticism in my DNA.

FlipFlap's avatar

It’s a good idea to be compassionate – not overtly skeptical – toward new acquaintances, since you might decide to become friends with the person. From my own experiences I can say that I have a strong dislike for those who treat me with skepticism the moment I meet them and I don’t forget it. They don’t become friends with me because I immediately don’t want to be their friend.

Choose something in between compassion and skepticism. You’ve indicated you’re a friendly person. Be yourself, but hold back just a little bit so they don’t think you’re a pushover.

vincentcent's avatar

My experience has told to approach with guarded compassion. As a wise man once said, trust easy to initially earn, but very tough to win back.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

“Trust but verify”

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