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Strive for empathy

“Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow for other's good, and melt at other's woe.”
Homer, Greek poet (approx 800-750 B.C.)

I read an article in today’s paper about how to react to serious illness and death of coworkers or coworker's relatives.

The advice was ‘say what you would like to hear if the situation were reversed’. What would you find acceptable for your coworkers to say or do if one of your loved ones was seriously ill? Be empathetic. You can think of empathy as being like an actor preparing for a role.

Yesterday I learned a friend’s husband was about to lose his job of 25 years if he didn’t move to the new headquarters 175 miles away. I tried to imagine how I would feel.

It’s not civil to ignore these situations and say nothing. It’s not civil to drag out your own horror stories. It’s not a time to pry into other’s lives.

Civility is reacting with action and words.
Are there some jobs at work you can help with or take over?
“I understand this is very difficult for you.”
“How are you doing today?”

Empathy is needed in many work situations.
Take the flip side. Someone in your office receives a citation or does outstanding work on a project. If you were that person, you’d appreciate your coworkers acknowledging your success but that doesn’t always happen. Why not? Is it envy? Is it obliviousness because you’re so focused on your own work and personal life?

As the quote from Homer notes (top of right column), empathy comes easier the older one gets because you’ve experienced more. It doesn’t necessarily make it easy to know what to say or do. It takes compassion and thinking about how you’d want people to react if you were in the situation.

Strive for empathy. Teach your children empathy.
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Empathy, noun: Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives
Synonyms: commiseration, compassion, condolence
Etymology: Greek, literally ‘to suffer with'

The Gannett News Service story ‘Coping with illness, death in the office’
http://www.thedesertsun.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061204/COLUMNS15/612040322/1082

Comments

As always, well said.

How often does the arrival of bad news become an excuse to pry and speculate rather than an opportunity to show acceptance and respect? Too often.

Excellent article on empathy. The fast-paced offices of today need to slow down and show far more empathy and civility to people who are hurting and those who are celebrating! Be there for them in the "glow" and also in the "woe"!