I may decide to flesh this out more in the future, but I just want to get these thoughts that I’ve been having for a long time now. I feel that too often people pretend that they understand what someone is going through, but what they are doing in actuality is forcing their preconceived notions onto others. Empathy is the easiest and the hardest thing to do. It is simple since all one has to do is detach themselves from their position, and try to understand things from another perspective. It is however difficult since we people put too much importance on our ownselves with no regard to others. It is also paramount to refrain from trying to educate people about their problems in a condescending fashion.
Aside from the need to be less self absorbed, patience is also required. You need to listen to that person, and refrain from making the conversation about yourself. This is actually something else that upsets me. Recently, voice actors providing their talent for video games have become a bit disgruntled, spawning the Performance Matters hashtag movement on Twitter. To make things short and simple, VAs felt that they were getting the short end of the stick. When this happened, some game developers decided to be a counter of sorts, pointing out their own mistreatment by publishers. Those that follow me on Twitter would see that I currently have these slightly pointed words pinned:
If you’re first response to someone making a complaint is “HURR DURR! I HAVE PROBLEMS TOO!”, you are a jackass.
Now, Twitter is not the best place to have nuanced discussions, but the main point I wanted to make is that yes, you may have problems, but that does not exclude everyone else from feeling pain and complaining about it. Neither does it mean that there is no possibility that your problem may be of a different nature. It is not a contest to see who has the most misery. I believe that the right thing to do would be to add to what they other person is saying, rather than interject and steer the conversation away from the initial topic. That way, there is a chance of bringing both issues to awareness and solve both. Now that is what I call efficiency!
Unfortunately, things are not so simple and clean (I love inside jokes). Even if one has pain, even if that pain was equal, and even if the pain is similar, that does not mean that full comprehension will happen. We do not like being told “you wouldn’t understand”, but the truth is that there are things we can’t completely grasp. However, even if we cannot fully understand the pain, we can understand that the pain is existent, and that is the first step towards helping to mend the pain.
Until next time.