Words = Meaning + Intention — CMCOLLAB

by Heather Doyle Fraser

As I’ve been enjoying the haiku lately, here’s one to start us off:

Words are important-

Their meanings and intentions.

I will uphold them.

A few weeks ago, I set up a meeting with someone who specializes in marketing authors, particularly those who self-publish. I sent an email asking for a conversation because I was curious about what he does and how he does it. We work with the same people and I thought perhaps we might have some common ground and maybe it would be fertile for a collaboration of some kind. I was excited at the prospect because collaborating with like-minded people is one of my favorite things… right up there with raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles, and warm woolen mittens!

In my email, I gave him insight into my background and experience in both publishing and coaching, and I also filled him in on what drives me and how I infuse compassion into my work with my clients. I was thoughtful with my words, and I crafted that email with clear intentions and explicit language regarding the possibility of collaborating together.

Fast forward a few days and we have a call lined up. We jump on, and I can sense from the first few minutes that this isn’t going to be the collaborative call I had envisioned. He was selling to me, not interested in collaborating with me. He asked me about the books I have written, and I showed him copies (we were on a video call) and briefly described each one. I also told him about the work I do with my clients and what they write about for the most part. I shared my screen to show him my website. He saw the word compassion and presumably heard me talking about it. Then, he had an aha moment, “Really what we do is compassionate marketing!”

I will admit, I was intrigued.

“Tell me more about that,” I entreated.

He proceeded to describe funnel marketing. I was trying to figure out where the compassionate part came in, and then he said it, “We create these quizzes that really highlight their pain. Then we send them emails that are targeted to that pain, which of course leads them to all of the products — and that’s where we up-sell them.”

Hmmm… compassionate marketing… Do you know the meaning of the word COMPASSION?

At that moment, all things stopped for me. I heard the metaphorical record scratch and the music of this dance we were engaged in abruptly stopped. You see, I am operating under the following definition of compassion:

“A standard definition of compassion is, a sensitivity to the suffering in self and others with a commitment to try to alleviate and prevent it.” ~ Dr. Paul Gilbert, founder of Compassion Focused Therapy

What this person was describing was not compassion. Not by a very long shot. Compassion is fierce and requires the motivation and commitment to help alleviate or prevent someone’s suffering. As he talked, his motivation was clearly not this. His intention was not this. He wanted to exploit-not alleviate-pain to build lists and sell products.

And let’s be clear- I know everyone has a job to do, and each job is different. But let’s not use a word-ignoring its meaning-in order to manipulate. He knew the word compassion was important to me, so he grabbed it and appropriated it, hoping that I would in turn grab at the chance to work and collaborate with someone else who talked about compassion.


I don’t know what compassionate marketing is- if there is such a thing- or what it looks like, but I know that it isn’t the picture that this person painted for me. I’m willing to keep looking for someone who can help me find that.

I’m building a network of people who know the meaning of compassion and it is at the core of what and how they do everything. It’s layered into their essence and being. I don’t want to collaborate with someone who is exploiting and up-selling people’s pain. When I engage with someone it will be to create something wonderful in their lives. And if that something is a book, the process of writing will be intentional. It will build on their strengths and joy. And while I hold space for those strengths and that joy, I will also tenderly hold space for their suffering and their challenges. We will bring them in together to create meaningful beauty.

I want everyone who comes to the Compassionate Mind Collaborative to know that no matter who they engage with, they will be met with compassion, caring, and commitment. And that’s why I won’t be collaborating with people who don’t hold these same values. There’s too much of that in the world and I am drawing a line in the sand.

Intention and meaning are important. They make a difference when speaking. They make a difference in writing. They are worth fighting for in my eyes because they define who we are and how we operate in this life.

Originally published at https://www.cmcollab.com on June 12, 2020.




Author, Publisher, Coach mixing compassionate practice with writing. Renaissance Woman & Lover of Books, Haikus, Nature & Moving My Body… My Voice Is My Art

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Heather Doyle Fraser

Heather Doyle Fraser

Author, Publisher, Coach mixing compassionate practice with writing. Renaissance Woman & Lover of Books, Haikus, Nature & Moving My Body… My Voice Is My Art

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