Balancing Resilience and Compassion

Blake Kohler

The Need for Thick Skin but a Soft Heart in Gathering Feedback from Vulnerable Individuals

Understanding the Delicate Balance

In the world of social services and support for vulnerable individuals, the axiom "have thick skin but a soft heart" is more than just a saying; it's a crucial mindset for success. At Pulse For Good, we understand the significance of this balance in gathering and implementing feedback from those we serve. This approach is vital not only for personal resilience but also for maintaining the empathy and compassion necessary to make a real difference.

The Essence of Thick Skin

Having thick skin in this context means developing a resilience to criticism and negative feedback. When working with vulnerable groups, feedback can often be raw, direct, and emotionally charged. It's essential to remember that this feedback is not a personal attack, but rather a reflection of the experiences and emotions of the individuals we are trying to help.

  1. Resilience Against Criticism: Learn to view criticism as a valuable source of information. It helps us understand the real impact of our actions and services.
  2. Avoiding Emotional Burnout: By not taking negative feedback personally, we can protect ourselves from emotional burnout, ensuring we can continue our work effectively.
  3. Fostering a Growth Mindset: Seeing criticism as an opportunity for growth and improvement keeps us adaptable and responsive to the needs of those we serve.

The Necessity of a Soft Heart

While a thick skin helps us process feedback constructively, a soft heart ensures we stay connected with the human element of our work. Empathy and compassion are the cornerstones of effective support for vulnerable individuals.

  1. Empathy in Action: A soft heart allows us to genuinely understand and feel the struggles and needs of those we are helping, leading to more effective and tailored support.
  2. Building Trust and Rapport: Showing genuine care and compassion helps build trust with the individuals we serve, making them more likely to open up and provide honest feedback.
  3. Human-Centered Approach: A soft heart reminds us that behind every piece of feedback is a human being with their own story, fears, and hopes.

Striking the Right Balance

The challenge lies in striking the right balance between these two qualities. Here are some strategies to maintain this balance:

  1. Reflective Practice: Regularly reflect on your reactions to feedback. Ask yourself if you are being overly sensitive or, conversely, if you are becoming desensitized to the needs of those you serve.
  2. Seek Support: Utilize your support network. Discussing experiences with colleagues can provide perspective and emotional relief.
  3. Continuous Learning: Engage in ongoing professional development to enhance your skills in handling feedback and supporting vulnerable populations.


In the journey of providing support to vulnerable individuals, "having thick skin but a soft heart" is more than a philosophy; it's a practical approach to remaining effective, empathetic, and resilient. At Pulse For Good, we believe that mastering this balance is key to not only surviving but thriving in the challenging yet rewarding field of social service and support.

If you’re looking for more insights into effectively gathering and using feedback in social services, visit Pulse For Good for resources and information tailored to helping those who help others.

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