When you walked into the office this morning, what did you notice? Did you observe people passing you by or the expressions on their face? What emotions did you pick up from your observations? What do you sense is going on in their lives? Are they happy, sad or maybe worried?
Our days are very busy – there is no arguing that. However, this busyness can result in us walking around with blinders on. We are focused on what lies ahead and we sometimes forget the real reason any of us are here. We miss out on opportunities to notice that someone is struggling and could use a listening ear or a smile. We don’t realize that someone is lost and could benefit from a moment of our time to help them find where they need to be. Perhaps a co-worker is having an off day, and would benefit from a simple hello or an offer to join you for a cup of coffee.
In a hospital setting, patients are ill and need care. These patients are connected to families that are worried and care about them very deeply. Sometimes the outcome of the patient may be wonderful and miraculous, and other times it is sadness and loss of life. In a business setting, lives may not be at stake, but people may be going through a difficult time with the behavior of their child, reeling from an argument they had with their spouse that morning, wrapped up in worry over the declining health of a parent or grandparent. Not everyone walks in the door with a big smile on their face. Perhaps their fears or deep concerns may come out as a negative attitude or harsh words spoken which are designed to keep others at arm’s length so their private bubble of pain isn’t burst wide open.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share feelings of another. How much empathy do you show throughout the day? Recently, I came across a video that Cleveland Clinic put together. This video not only brought a tear to my eyes, but gave me a great reminder to not take everyone at face value. It reminded me that what seems like a person not paying attention to where they’re walking may very well be a person deeply concerned about an issue in their life. It reminded me how important it is to show a little leniency and kindness every day. Please take a few minutes to watch.
If you could stand in someone else’s shoes would you treat them differently? Henry David Thoreau said, “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” As you go through your day, take a moment to look through someone else’s eyes. I would love to hear feedback from you on how these moments have changed your perspective on your daily life, both at work and at home.
Author: Julie Hill
Julie Hill is an executive assistant at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Spectrum Health is a non-profit health system based in West Michigan comprised of nine hospitals, 130 ambulatory and service sites, and a health insurance plan. Spectrum Health is the largest employer in West Michigan. She is currently president of the Professional Administrative Support Staff (PASS) group which consists of over 400 members of various support staff positions. Julie will be completing her bachelor’s degree in business administration in the spring of 2014.