By definition, empathy has two meanings. One is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes in order to fully understand or “feel” what they are experiencing so that they can really feel understood. The other is to be able to relate to someone else’s situation because you’ve personally experienced the same thing.
It might not always be possible to use personal experience, but as caring humans we are capable of investing deep thought and feeling to imagining what it would feel like if we were to have the same experience as someone else. This takes more thought and effort than offering sympathy, which by definition is recognition of another’s suffering and is expressed by kind words meant to soothe the person who is suffering.
Sympathy is not out of place here; it is usually very honest and coming from the heart, but what we find our clients really need is empathy. Due to our initial and ongoing education and many years working with the hard of hearing population, we know that living with hearing loss is difficult. The clinicians at Living Sounds Hearing Centre care about these difficulties. We want to get to know you and find out how hearing loss affects you so that we can better empathize with your specific wants and wishes. This enables us to put “ourselves into your shoes”, allows us to determine the best course of action, and gives us the tools we need to recommend the best quality hearing solutions to meet your needs and expectations. We want you to hear your loved ones in the car, and we want you to be able to chat about the weather with the cashier at the grocery store with ease. We also definitely want you to hear your grandchildren describe what they did in school on a particular day. Human interaction is important to a healthy life!
We all suffer at some point in our lives, but if we can empathize with each other we are opening a door to more personal connection and better communication, which leads to more understanding and hopefully more happiness.
Kim Ryll, BC-HIS
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner