Featured Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay
I had a very challenging day this week, dealing with a water leak in the house—yet, at the same time, that day was filled with synchronicity, kindness and—despite the COVID-19 situation—with human connection.
When we turned the outdoor water supply off for the winter, the handle, even though turned to the max, would not shut the water supply off completely. This first created a leak in the garage, and then even a leak in the basement that was getting worse quickly. Suddenly, a plumber was needed urgently.
Mr. Rooter was the only plumber available or even answering the phone. Within an hour, a young man arrived. Alone at that point, I had been running around trying to salvage wet papers and cleaning out a shelf underneath the leak. I was pretty frazzled to say the least, and close to tears. But then I saw a pair of kind blue eyes look at me above the COVID mask as I was describing the problem, and he simply said, “I am so sorry to hear that.” He might have said more that I do not recall anymore, but that look, and the empathy was as if he had flicked a switch. I suddenly knew he had been sent from above.
While he explored the reason for the leak and performed the necessary repairs, we chatted across the room, appropriately distancing, with our masks on. He noticed my massage table, these days tucked away in the basement, and I heard that his mother is a Reiki master like I am, and that he himself does Reiki. We chatted about workshops, about family, kids, and school. He shared that he became a plumber to help others. When he had left, it struck me how little it took to turn an afternoon from hell into a beautiful experience from human to human.
When I turned his business card around, I noticed the “code of values” Mr. Rooter employees apparently live by. Values like respect, integrity, and customer focus. To my delight many of these values could be from a handbook of how to be in a successful relationship with others and how to communicate well. Here is how their code of values defines respect and integrity:
- Treating others as we would like to be treated.
- Listening with the intent to understand what is being said and acknowledging that what is said is important to the speaker.
- Responding in a timely fashion.
- Speaking calmly and respectfully, without profanity or sarcasm.
- Acknowledging everyone as right from their own perspective.
- Making only agreements we are willing, able, and intend to keep.
- Communicating any potentially broken agreements at the first appropriate opportunity to all parties concerned.
- Looking to the system for correction and proposing all possible solutions if something is not working.
- Operating in a responsible manner.
- Communicating openly and with purpose.
- Asking clarifying questions if we disagree or do not understand.
- Never saying anything about anyone that we would not say to him or her.
This young man not only embodied respect and communicated well, but he was also very comfortable with expressing empathy, one of the key pieces which connects us to others. He could simply have focused on fixing the plumbing issue, but what made the huge difference for me was that within the first few seconds he made me feel less alone. That is what happens when somebody acknowledges our feelings or our experience.
We sometimes forget that we are all making a difference in this world with each interaction with another human being. What if we looked into each others’ eyes more, despite the protective masks that we wear these days? We might not be able to smile with our mouths, but we can still make a connection from human to human.
To make such a difference, it does not matter in what profession you are earning your money, it just takes that extra moment to connect. It takes the willingness to empathize and to acknowledge a customer or service provider or colleague or neighbour as a fellow human struggling in the same way we are.
Couples, who are stuck in criticizing or fixing problems for their partner, often ask me, “It is hard not to go to fixing mode. What can we say to each other to simply empathize?” Here are some examples for statements or questions to express interest, empathy, and care. This list is of course by no means complete:
- I am sorry to hear this.
- I am sorry you feel this way.
- I am so sorry you are having this experience.
- It looks like you are not having a good day.
- I get why you are feeling this way.
- This really sucks.
- I can only imagine how challenging this must be.
- I can emphasize because I have experienced something similar.
- It must be difficult / exhausting / frustrating / worrisome etc.
- I imagine you feel exhausted / overwhelmed / frustrated / worried / upset / disappointed etc.
- I am here to listen. Tell me more about what that is like.
- Let me know if you would like my help with this. I would be happy to…
Are you looking to strengthen your partnership, another relationship or yourself? Reach out for a free consultation or to book a session. I see individual clients and couples via Zoom.
Belief Change & Relationship Coaching