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Caring vs. Caring Too Much

By Susan Dunn


Caring Being concerned about outcomes; paying just enough attention but not too much; to feel trouble or anxiety; to feel interest or concern; to overlook the progress of others and projects but to have faith and confidence in other people to look after themselves and do things well enough.

Caring too much Being too concerned about outcomes; paying too much attention; feeling too troubled or anxious; feeling overly concerned; not believing other people are competent and capable and hovering over them and transmitting your anxiety to them so they become dysfunctional.


Supervising a project vs. Hovering over the person

Being concerned about someone and interested in the outcome vs. Worrying anxiously over someone and trying to take over

Managing vs. Controlling

Transmitting emotions of confidence and self-assurance vs. Transmitting fear, worry and anxiety

Alice cared about the outcome of the project and made herself available to the team for input and supervision. She had high emotional intelligence and was flexible and creative in planning and outcomes. She delegated easily and well. Because of this, the team worked well and had the stamina to finish in style with plenty of energy left over for the next project. Everyone enjoyed working with Alice because she brought out the best in them, and they built their self-esteem by completing successful projects.

Harry was overly concerned about the project. He was critical and demanding of himself and others and had low emotional intelligence. He could not be satisfied with less than perfection and drove himself and others. He hovered over everyone which destroyed their self-confidence, confused them and pulled their focus away from the work. His worry caused them to worry and undermined their self-confidence. As the "primal leader," he transmitted his anxiety to others. Every team and project he drove this way became cynical, insecure, exhausted and burnt out. No one wanted to work with him or under him, and the best people would transfer out of his department. Eventually he was fired.

Key point
When you become overly concerned and caring, you cross a line into what's called an overdriven striving. You focus on it too much and can affect your own thinking and functioning, as well as that of others. You demand too much and usually get too little. It's exhausting to everyone concerned.

We are truly helpful to ourselves and to others when care enough but not too much. It's important to have faith and confidence in others, and give them room to breathe, grow and blossom.

Related distinctions

Excellence vs. Perfectionism

Managing vs. Controlling

Overseeing vs. Hovering

Having faith in others vs. Having faith only in yourself

Work with a certified emotional intelligence coach to improve your EQ skills, and you'll have better relationships at work and at home.

© Susan Dunn

Susan Dunn, MA, “The EQ Coach” offers coaching, distance learning and e-books around emotional intelligence for your continued personal and professional development. She trains and certifies EQ coaches.


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