It's been almost two weeks since we last blogged, for which we offer our apologies. It's been a busy fortnight and client needs far outweigh the pressure to deliver blog posts for the sake of them.
Today, however, I have something to share.
I woke on Monday with an appalling pain in my lower back. It came from nowhere. i went to bed on Sunday and felt fine, but woke Monday feeling like I'd been kicked by a mule. It has restricted my mobility, but I've cracked on with work and tried to keep moving, hoping to push through it and release whatever's trapped in there.
Today I travelled into London for a meeting first thing. As I walked along the platform at Victoria (admittedly far slower than usual) I was amazed at the way people pushed past, impatient to be places and with no awareness that I was doing my best, and hurting as a result. It gave me a little insight into how it must feel to be old or infirm, restricted in mobility and unable to move around at the breakneck speeds of today's world. I was trying my damnedest but couldn't keep up. I felt a little afraid and ashamed that I was causing such inconvenience, and just wanted to get out of the way.
It highlighted for me the importance of empathy in our communications and behaviour towards others; the need to understand that people don't want to be behind, slow or difficult, but that often they can't tackle a particular obstacle without your help, support and understanding.
I don't know what would have helped me earlier short of a lovely person offering me a piggyback, but it made me realise that we move far too fast sometimes, and we frighten others with our need for speed.
Update: an interesting lunch meeting and lively chat with the brilliant Gail Steel of Calla Personnel led me to think further on this in a business context.
When do we pause and consider what we might do to empathise with others at work? When do we seek to actively understand people who are struggling, rather than assume they need 'fixing' and that we can do it via systems, performance management processes and so on? I'll tell you- damned rarely. Perhaps if we tried to empathise before we impose our own ideas about what's needed we might identify a long term solution rather than a quick fix that won't stick.
I don't know. But I'm going to try it. I'll let you know what happens.