Empathy in Action

      21 Comments on Empathy in Action

I don’t know if this would work in India. Maybe it wouldn’t work with everybody. It could surely work with more people than one would think. For the funny thing is, despite all evidence to the contrary, Indians are honest more frequently than not. Unfortunately- and typically- the dishonest have center stage and are seen and heard, while sincere people live their honest lives in public silence.

Would an Indian debt collecting agency ever dare take this risk? I don’t know.

With that, my mind went off into a tangent. It veered away from debt collection entirely and froze upon the thought- somewhat like taking a diamond out of a setting to see if it can shine as brightly in another setting. Turns out, it does!

The principle behind this debt- collecting company is Empathy.

Empathy is defined as the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts and experience of another without having the feelings, thoughts and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

The debt collecting company understand that someone in financial difficulties needs a helping hand to get them back on their feet- without it being communicated. They understand that people are in difficulties not because they are unprincipled ruffians but honest, hard- working people who have received a setback. To treat a person in a way that helps them retain their self- respect and reinforces their dignity is what this debt collecting company does.

Can this principle be applied to other interactions we have? With co-workers, family members, children? Can we choose empathy and gentleness instead of brow beating? Can we give a leg up instead of criticizing and censuring someone who is already down in the dumps? Is it difficult to treat people with respect so that you don’t violate their dignity?

Debt collecting companies are known to be tough and unsympathetic. Money is the only language they understand. Threat, intimidation and coercion are their alphabets. Yet, one company chose to break the mold. If a debt collecting company can do it, why can’t we make the effort to find resonance with those who interact with us?

When someone makes a mistake, specially a major blooper, chances are that they are already feeling awful. They are probably trudging wearily to the hardware store to buy a stout hook on which to hang themselves. They’d never let themselves off the hook, why don’t we do it for them?

Can we do this today? Will you? Will I?

Picture Credit: Empathy Symbol from Google Images

Picture Credit: Empathy Symbol from Google Images

21 thoughts on “Empathy in Action

  1. Pingback: Will Empathy (instead of Pressure) Work for Debt Collectors? | Destination Infinity

  2. Rachna

    Bang on, Dagny! The post struck a chord with me. I have been riddled with the same questions. Why can’t we empathize more? Why can’t we treat others reasonably without violating their dignity? I believe it is not very difficult just that sometimes it gives us petty pleasures or makes us feel superior by coming down strong on someone who is always down in the dumps. In personal life, I try my level best to handle disagreements with dignity and in a neutral tone. Yes, indeed we can, if we try. Perhaps not always but definitely often.

    Reply
    1. Dagny Post author

      The video made an impact on me. It really is so surprising that a company whose modus operendi is known to be to butter people over the lawn and dance on the remains, this was most surprising. And if they can do it, why can’t we? We have more reason to do and less not to do it. I think I just typed a sentence that was pure gibberish. Deal with it. 😀

      Reply
  3. C. Suresh

    Empathy is probably the most difficult attribute to acquire, Dagny! It involves being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see the world as she sees it. That, in turn, requires a certain nimbleness of imagination, which is a rare and elusive quality. Almost all the ills of the world can be traced back to a lack of it – from domestic strife to world wars. Too many people live their lives according to what they consider as axioms, which are no more than belief systems that they were brought up on by an accident of birth and upbringing AND will revile as evil any conduct that runs counter to those ‘axioms’. I agree that the idea is ‘Utopian’ 🙂

    Reply
    1. Dagny Post author

      As you said Suresh, the idea is Utopian. But is it all that tough to follow?

      Empathy is difficult, you are right there. Some people simply don’t seem to have the organ with which to acquire the trait. Some, as is natural, have so much of it that they make up for the shortfall- and then some.

      I wonder why we are so passionately mulish about our beliefs… almost to the point of painful stupidity. 😀

      Reply
  4. sakshinanda

    The debt collecting companies in India will empathise the day we the people learn to don another’s shoes and look through their eyes and minds. There is not much empathy around, Dagny. But even though it sounds like a distant dream, it is not impossible to feel and understand another’s pain.
    So thought-provoking!

    Reply
    1. Dagny Post author

      Empathy is certainly not very thick upon the ground in India. Let us do as much as we can at our own level.

      So pleased to see you here Sakshi. 🙂

      Reply
  5. spunkybong

    Beautifully written and the video is inspiring. Interesting that CFS is making twice as much money through showing empathy. Maybe it cherry-picks the debtors it targets. I’m sure there are enough people who sincerely want to repay back their debts and just need a little help.

    But for every Lori there are ten Burts who are shameless about their debts, hardened defaulters who simply won’t care. This is an American video.

    Taking this on a macro level, this is a region of the world that is completely shameless about owing money. This is a profligate part of the world. Over reaching and maxing out is in its DNA. Empathy will simply bounce off its thick hide.

    Reply

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