I was talking to a friend of mine, who was sick and said she didn’t eat anything.
My reply was full of suggestions. Did you try this, did you try that, maybe you could do this, blah blah.
And it hit me just now that the first thing I did was to identify it as a problem and find a solution. Being trained as an engineer and a computer science student- though not a hardcore one, I don’t create algorithms or come up with ingenious solutions or anything, I sometimes tend to see everything as a problem.
I mean, when you have to force yourself to be logical and calculating coldly, sometimes, you forget the bigger picture. Sure you identified the problem, sure you are working on the solution, but what about the ongoing effect? What about the actual thing that is going on?
Take the above case, what she probably was looking for was comfort and a few words to cheer her up probably. Instead, I did the classic move, ignored her and focused on the issue. But that doesn’t mean I was not concerned about her, was I? I am reading Satya Nadella’s Hit Refresh now. He talks about many points of a business, about customers, passion, interest, empathy and trust.
All these got me thinking just now, what about all the engineers in the world doing awesome work, bringing wonderful solutions to all these people? They were probably driven by the fact that there was a problem. Perhaps it was personal, perhaps it was because it posed a challenge, even because they had to, because it’s simply their job. Now imagine if they lack the empathy to understand the problem. The people who enjoy the fruit of their labours, might even enjoy it more if they could have interacted with the engineers.
I don’t know. Maybe the world needs to be a bit more empathetic. And perhaps, engineers could be the biggest beneficiaries of such a movement. The world definitely needs more people who can ask simple questions like, “Are you Ok?” Or, “Do you want to talk about it?”