Lucknow: “She married into a hospital!” he summarized with an ironic voice. The conversation then moved to our usual discussion on dashboards, numbers, and other topics on the meeting agenda.

It was one of our online office meetings, with colleagues now connecting from different locations- the new normal way of working. At the start of the meeting, a little small talk led to one of the colleagues describing his family- a story of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, a heart condition, and dialysis, affecting most the members of his family. While we were discussing how COVID was affecting the world in general, he was used to this style of living because that had been the story his entire life. He claimed that he can do this all daily and with a smile solely because of his wife- who was his strength, his pillar, his everything.

Let’s take a minute and look at the lady being described above- married into a family of people who need constant care, continuous supervision, and accepting all that in her stride. How easily could she have said no to all of this- and asked for a life of comfort that she had every right too! She could easily have asked her husband to maybe get a different accommodation and put the family under an expert’s supervision. She had every right to ask for this and more, but the lady chooses to live her life with one wonder drug- empathy.

The meaning of this heavily overused word “empathy” is the capacity to place oneself in another’s position and understand what the other person is experiencing. Heavily confused with “sympathy” (feeling sorrow for someone else’s misfortune/need), the understanding and implementation of this word are what is needed- more so now. Research indicates that empathy is crucial for good mental health, probably the second most talked about thing right now (behind that damn virus of course).  One of the simplest ways to develop empathy is by asking a simple question- what will be the other person’s action/response in such a scenario? This is the basic building block of a very difficult concept called empathy.  Post that meeting, I have started using the lady’s example to gradually understand how I can be empathetic. You can find your own story- there are umpteen examples you can stumble upon which can guide you. The “I” needs to be sent a little back and the “we” need to come to the front.

Put yourself in my colleague’s shoes- the very reason for him being able to keep up with his family’s need is that rock called his wife. The wife, on the other hand, would be smiling every time she gets to hear her husband’s pride-filled description of her. That’s the very basis of an amazing relationship-a little bit of empathy, a little bit of pride, and a little bit of effort. Try it out!

The author's views are personal only.

This article was originally published here:

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Salil Srivastava
Author: Salil Srivastava
In the profession called 'People' | Budding Writer

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