“Empathy is simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone.’”
I remember being in a rush the day I came across this quote, which was on a piece of paper taped on the wall in the small animal hospital on campus. It struck me so suddenly. Had I been effectively listening and emotionally connecting with my clients, classmates, and veterinarians? The truth of the matter is that the stresses in the clinic that day were very likely impeding my ability to be empathetic. The photo and quote served as an impetus for me to reconsider the ways that I interact with people.
“You’re not alone,” is reminiscent of Liverpool Football Club’s motto, “You’ll never walk alone.” I am not so much a fan of the team, but I do appreciate the message the motto conveys. If I see a client who is visibly upset with the state of their pet’s health or a poor prognosis they’ve been given, I try to be respectful of their space but also make sure to communicate to them that I (and my colleagues) are on their side. As easy as it is for 5a student to feel overwhelmed in the small animal hospital, it’s understandable that pet owners can get flustered with all the information thrown their way regarding their pet’s health. It’s good to take note of this and treat them (and everyone we meet) as we would wish to be treated!