When you listen, do you also empathize?

Subir Chowdhury

The ability to empathize is the difference between comprehending what someone is saying and simply hearing the words they are speaking. Empathy means that you make a concerted effort to pay attention to someone else’s feelings, thoughts or attitudes. In other words, you listen to what their needs are and respond to those needs.

You all need to support each other if we are going to achieve our own goals in life. When you are empathetic, you understand that no one person can do everything.

When I first came to the United States to attend graduate school, I arrived with a college education and the clothes on my back. I was not better off financially than anyone else.

In fact, I almost ended up not being able to stay but because someone at the university had empathy and listened to me, I was able to secure a research grant, finish my education and eventually became a citizen. Yes, I worked hard and persevered. I also had some good luck, but mostly I had the benefit of other people who believed in me, who listened to me. Now I’m paying it forward by listening to others and doing my best to be empathetic towards their needs.

Empathy is a form of respect. No one person’s contribution is less important than any others. We are all connected and we all impact one another. Each of us deserves the chance to succeed. Assembly line worker, housekeeper, restaurant server, you name it.

Because of my own challenges to get ahead, I have enormous respect for people regardless of what they do for a living. I need my mail carrier. I need my clients. I need the person who mows my yard. I need the teachers who dedicate their lives to teaching my kids. I need the physician who takes care of me when I’m sick. I need the people who work for and with me.

Everyone deserves respect.

Everyone has a voice and be sure you listen to that voice.


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