An important aspect of compassion is knowing one’s love language and applying compassionate listening, said Hank Smith at Brigham Young University's Campus Education Week.
Smith shared how people — especially in the workplace — avoid compassionate listening to protect themselves. This prevents people from learning and working together, he added.
An exercise that demonstrated compassionate listening was when two people took turns listening to each other for 10 minutes, said Smith, an LDS author, motivational speaker and BYU religion teacher. Some people learned more about the stranger they talked to than they know about their coworkers.
"You'll be shocked how much you can learn if you give your undivided attention to someone for 10 minutes," Smith said.
Smith also touched on Gary Chapman's five languages of love (gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch) and challenged audience members to find out the love language of someone with whom they want to build trust.
"Do you know their love language? How do they feel and express love?" Smith said. "Have you two been speaking two different (love) languages? I've got someone saying, 'I love you' in Japanese and someone saying, 'I love you' in German, and nobody thinks they're loved. Do you know their love language?"
Reliability is an important quality in building trust which, according to Smith, entails being dependable, predictable, keeping promises, explaining actions when necessary, and independence. The more reliable someone is, the stronger a relationship can be. Unreliability is harmful, he added.
"Vulnerability goes up while reliability goes down," Smith said. "We don't want people to feel unsafe in our relationships. We don't want them to feel like they don't know what they're going to get."
In broken relationships, Smith said trust can be rebuilt when each person is committed. Taking accountability and explaining actions can help bring vulnerability down and trust up.
"Remember that trust always and forever will be a choice," Smith said. "Extend trust slowly, very slowly and very carefully."
Smith said those who are violated should continue to extend more trust as the partner continues to show reliability.
"One form of predictability is that your words and actions have to line up. I can't trust you if you say one thing and do another," Smith said.
When this sequence is not followed, Smith said taking responsibility for the action and correcting mistakes can help rebuild a relationship.