Don’t underestimate the power of empathy

I’m on vacation. Like, right now, as I type, family vacation. We’re having a great time, thanks for asking. So, why am I crafting this blog post? Because something happened on our way to vacation that I wanted to share with you. It’s not going to be a regular Q & A type of post, but a bit more… introspective. Stick with me to the end, if not for your sake, maybe someone else’s.

On our way to our normal vacation spot, our family stops and sees some dear friends of ours (we’ll call them the Jones family) that moved away from our area for work. We’ve made it a point to stop and spend time with them over the last 4 trips, and we’ve loved every minute of it. This year, the Jones’ were preparing to move to a new home about 30 minutes away, and my wife and I pitched in with the preparation. We used the time helping out to also catch up with each other and learn more about what’s been going on outside of the normal social media updates, phone calls, and text messages. Here is where reality began to sink in for me.

Mr. Jones and I were doing some work at the new house putting some flooring down when conversation turned to my responsibilities as a Financial Concierge for Your Money Line. I explained what a normal day looks like, how I do what I do, and what my goal is for each person I help. Mr. Jones asked me a few more questions but wrapped things up with one last query.

“What’s the worst situation you’ve ever helped someone with?”

And there it was.

You see, the Jones’ family gives the appearance of being quite normal. Intelligent people, both highly educated, and polite and respectful to everyone they meet. If you didn’t know better, you’d have no idea that they’ve dealt with a number of moves for education and work, changed jobs more than they’d like, and face a number of very serious health issues on a daily basis. How they keep it together is beyond me. The combined stresses of each of these situations had been taking its toll on the Jones family, not only emotionally, but financially, as well. As much as I hate to admit it, Mr. Jones had been building up to this point over the course of the last 2 years, and I never noticed.

Mr. Jones had wanted to ask for help in the past, but couldn’t bring himself to do it for one reason or another. Playing back conversations we’ve had, he dropped clues all over the place (knowingly or unknowingly). I was just too daft to put the pieces together.

So what happened? We talked. Actually, I did a lot of listening and just a little talking. And that’s actually what I’d like for you to take away from this post. We are surrounded by people who are looking for compassion, empathy, and help each day we put our feet on the floor. They could be coworkers, family, friends, or maybe, if you’re brave enough, a complete stranger. If one person can listen to them, not necessarily fix their problem, just listen to them… maybe it turns things around for them.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I know it looks like I’m in the financial advice business, but I’m really in the people business. I (and our whole company) strive to make a difference in people’s lives, and our preferred method is through helping them with their finances. The primary way we help people and the way you can help people is the same, however.

Just listen. Be empathetic. Think of others more highly than yourself. If you can do that, you could be the difference for someone.

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