Gotta’ Be Tough To Be Tender

My friends at The Walk the Talk Company publish an on line daily motivation.  You can subscribe by going to their website  Yesterday, they had a quote from George Washington Carver that get to the heart of what it takes to become an interpersonally competent person.

“How far you go in your life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong.”

There are four great adjectives in that quote: tender, compassionate, sympathetic and tolerant.  And they describe interpersonally competent people very well.  For years I have been telling people that being nice – and the words tender, compassionate, sympathetic and tolerant are great descriptors of a nice person – is the way to become known as interpersonally competent.

Interpersonal competence is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to do three things: 1) understand yourself, so you can better understand others; 2) build strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with the people in your life; and 3) resolve conflict in positively.  Being tender, compassionate, sympathetic and tolerant will help you build relationships and resolve conflict positively.

“Tender” is an interesting word. defines it in a couple of very different ways.  It can mean, “Weak or delicate in constitution; not strong or hardy; yielding readily to force or pressure.”  On the other hand, tender also means, “Easily moved to sympathy or compassion; affectionate or loving.”

The first definition makes it sound as if a tender person is weak.  The second makes it sound as if a tender person is caring.  It’s up to you to choose how you define this word for yourself.  When I was younger, I would have defined tender as being weak.  After 58 years of life experience, I no longer need to be a tough guy.  I realize that being tender is not weak at all.  It takes real strength to be a caring person.

I choose to be tender – to care about others and to do whatever I can to help whoever I can.  That’s why I write this blog.  That’s why I do the coaching and speaking work I do.  That’s why I do the volunteer work I do.

The common sense point here is clear.  Interpersonal competence is a key to career and life success. Interpersonally competent people are tender, compassionate, sympathetic and tolerant.  It takes a strong person to display these qualities in this tough, highly competitive world.  But if you do, you’ll build strong relationships with the people in your life.  And strong relationships will help you become a success in your life and career.

That’s my take on being tender, compassionate, sympathetic and tolerant.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts on this with the rest of us.  I really appreciate and value all of your comments.  As always, thanks for reading.


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