THE SOUNDING BOARDS
“Empathy is like giving someone a psychological hug.”
- Lawrence J
My friend, Mukesh, has been a popular Physics teacher. He loved the Physics subject both in school and college… and, when it came to choosing a career, he rightly chose to be a Physics teacher… Since that decision, Mukesh has taught Physics to thousands of students, mostly college students… and fired their imagination!
Two days ago, Mukesh had come to me to discuss a problem he was grappling with. He was with me for nearly thirty minutes and, all that I did was just listen to him with empathy, sincerely… knowing fully that I had no answers to his problems… Yet, he had chosen me to be his sounding board… come to me and talk. In fact, Mukesh has been doing it quite often… Whenever his mind needed some clarity, he would come to people like me and talk… while we would simply listen, without judging him and without jumping to our conclusions, leave alone solutions.
This time, when Mukesh was here, I confessed, “Mukesh, I am sorry… I couldn’t offer you any concrete solution to your problem.”
“But, I found it,” Mukesh declared with a broad smile, “that’s how I find my answers.”
Mukesh told me an interesting thing. “While I was in college, I would discuss my tough Physics problems with my dad. My dad knew nothing about Physics; yet, he would faithfully sit in front of me and listen with all his love and patience… I would keep on discussing the problems with him from so many angles, and for such long time… and, suddenly, the answers would pop up from nowhere! He was my true sounding board.
I do it so often for myself. When weighed down by my problems, I sit with my own sounding boards and discuss. Invariably, they have no answers ready with them, just as I don’t have for theirs… And, all that they do is: listen to me with lots of patience and empathy… and, with a sincere intent of helping me… seeing me freed of my burden. True, “Empathy is like giving someone a psychological hug.”
Pic.: Khushboo Gulrajani