Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Be Curious

The Country is in Turmoil so Be Curious

By Ilene Corina, BCPA, President, Pulse CPSEA

The country is in turmoil.  I won’t comment specifically on what is happening now.  There are enough comments and opinions.  What I want to share is how we must be careful when we think we are showing empathy by saying we understand how someone else feels, what they are going through or what it is like for them.  When someone is experiencing an injustice, a personal experience or even an illness, you don’t know.   

The best we can do is “be curious”.  Find out what the other person is experiencing by asking.  As a patient advocate and someone who assists families supporting each other one of the worst things I hear someone say in trying to support someone is “I know how you feel”.

These words can close down a conversation because if you know how someone feels, they don’t need to share with you how they feel.  Though empathy means, being aware of, sensitive to, and experiencing the feelings of another, and you may tell someone that you share their feelings, your experience may be very different.  One person can experience COVID-19 completely differently than someone else because of their underlying medical conditions, family support or symptoms.

As an advocate I am aware that one person may experience an illness, even if diagnosed as identical to someone else’s, very differently, due to their different circumstances.  Finances, family support, insurance and other conditions may all cause different outcomes and emotions — which means one person does not know what another person is experiencing.

So, I suggest that no matter what the situation — whether it is about race, religion, political beliefs, health or health care — we “be curious” and learn what it’s like to be someone else.  Go one step further and try not to share what you think, or your experience, and just listen to the other person.