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Friday, December 5, 2014

Empathy: A Perspective of Human Nature; post Ferguson

Photo Credit - worldofdtcmarketing.com The true meaning of Empathy
Photo Credit - worldofdtcmarketing.com
The true meaning of Empathy


Crosspost from the blog Random Thoughts by Larry Benjamin  - Empathy, perspective human nature


Empathy
em•pa•thy
ˈ
Noun: empathy
1. The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Do not know why, but it appears to me most right wingers suffer from a lack of this ability. Not sure if they were born that way or were trained to be that way but, I swear I see it all the time in them.
One fellow I know is fond of saying “Walk a mile in someone’s shoes and you will have new pair of shoes. You will also be a mile away so you can get away with them.”
The recent murder in Ferguson, Missouri brought many examples of this to the forefront with many debates regarding white privilege and the failure of many to even accept this as a reality.

This condition may tie in with perspectives, something I have blogged about in the past, don’t know, but here are a couple of true to life stories as examples of perspective or empathy or just general human nature.

Years back my job as a supervisor included addressing the problem of employees missing work without an excuse.

Empathy:

One of my good employees. A man that did his job as required, never missed a day and never gave me any grief for any reason. Did not make it to work one day, no call in sick, no request for time off, just failed to show.

When he returned the next day I sat with him in the office. Attempting to keep this positive I started with. “We needed you here yesterday.” He replied. “They needed me somewhere else even more so.” I asked “And where might that be?” “The million man march in Washington D.C.” was his quick reply. I paused for a moment, looked at his smiling face and said. “I think you’re right. Now get to work and have a good day.”

Different perspective:

Another story of a good employee. This guy was my go to guy. If I needed someone to fill in for a missing employee or had a problem in any area, he was the guy I could always count on to help me out. He knew all the jobs and did them all proficiently. Only problem was; if he was there on Friday you could almost rest assured he would not be there on Monday. And Monday off meant he would be there Friday.

My manager told me to take care of this problem worker, he misses too much time.
Again a set down in the office and my opening lines of complimentary remarks followed by the question. “Why do you only work 4 days a week?”
He paused for a brief moment and replied. “Because I can’t make it on 3 days.”
The cleanup crew often worked 7 days a week and many days 12 hours a day. I had an older man working for me and he was a good hard worker always volunteered to work any extra hours of overtime and did not miss any time.

One Saturday afternoon he came into the office with a request. He told me his birthday was tomorrow, he was turning 65. He said his wife had made a nice cake and invited all the kids over to celebrate.
He then asked me if he could have the day off. I replied “Well of course you can have it off. Have a good day and enjoy yourself.”
He then asked and got permission to use the phone.
He called his wife while I was sitting there and he said to her. “Well I asked him and he said I could not have it off.”
Damn! What a dude he was. Promised his wife he would ask for the day off and he did so.

He would get cake and sympathy when he got home. And I would continue to be the scoundrel dog that wouldn’t let him have his birthday off. We exchanged smiles and he went back to work.

One more story. Same crew different employee.

This guy was ancient, had 50+ years on the job. Was not healthy enough to do a really good job but, showed up every day and did what he could. He became ill and took a few weeks off recuperating.

On his return I sat with him in the office and discussed his health, his earned pension and the fact that he could retire any time he wanted to.
He told me his wife had passed years ago, his children were all out living on their own. “If I don’t get up and come in here for breakfast with my buddies why should I get up at all?”
Sad story? You be the judge. He seemed to be happy as he went back to work.



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