Does optimism make you compassionate?

Uh, no. While it is possible to do a study that associates physician optimism with 'compassion' scores, if you relax the definition of compassion to include 'warmth', the goofiest assumption driving this study design was unearthed by Denise Grady in her New York Times piece: "We thought the appropriate methodology might protect us like a shield." Really? 

Great communication is not about shielding yourself.

The real skill is about being able to hear everything without pushing it away, responding to your patient's emotion in that moment, and using your clinical expertise to make a difference. And sometimes, optimism is the right thing...