Why you need to show empathy when people act ‘strangely’

Why you need to show empathy when people act ‘strangely’

Friday, June 26, 2020 9:34 pm

Kehinde Fagbuaro

By Kehinde Fagbuaro

I once had a boss long ago (I’ll call him Mr T for the sake of this post), who was so disorganised, many times when we started  a new week in the laboratory expecting to see the rota of our week’s assignments pasted on the wall, we’ll discover my boss has forgotten to make the rota, if you know how operations in such clinical environment are carried out, you’ll appreciate more how ‘dangerous’ it is to have such person as a supervisor in a pathology laboratory, and many more, on numerous occasions I have had to point his attention to one leg of his trousers tucked into one of his pair of socks and he would drive all the way from his house without noticing this, then he’d say calmly, while adjusting it; “oh Kenny, thanks so much, I never noticed”.

The strange thing about Mr T is, he’s outrageously gifted, an extremely brilliant man with full dose of Biochemistry and haematology knowledge, as a matter of fact, we viewed him as a ‘mobile encyclopaedia of life sciences.

We (all the staff members, except few) were so dismissive of Mr T, because he’s my friend, I seized every opportunity of his ‘dangerous’ errors to criticise him so harshly, even to his face because I considered his ‘careless’ attitudes to be very dangerous to our end users’ (patients’) lives

Sometimes, he’ll appear on a Monday morning sitting alone and gazing straight, thinking afar.

I never gave him a chance to last long as a manager in such clinical environment.

How can someone be so brilliant and at this same time so absent-minded and disorganised?, I always queried  in my heart.

On a certain Monday morning, he came to the office very late (apparently he slept off and forgot to put on his clock’s alarm), as the chaos persisted in the lab, I quietly went to his office to probe what exactly his ‘issues’ were.

While alone with him, he breathed deeply and motioned to me with one hand calmly, (as usual) to come in and shut the door, he then told me something that made me to appear very silly to myself;

He narrated the story of his lone child, a 12 year old girl who was epileptic with an average of 20 fits daily coupled with her perennial sicknesses that made her to have frequent hospital admissions (almost every 2 months).

He told me, since the little girl couldn’t live independently, he and his wife have to schedule who stays with her per time and that most times I saw him come late to work looking unkept, he always came directly to the office from the hospital where he was staying with his daughter all weekend.

I left his office looking so sober and foolish, I have never been that ashamed of myself all my life.

Now, I was one of the oldest people in the laboratory, you’ll think my age should make me have sense and noticed Mr T must have been having some challenges in his personal life that’s making him to be that absent minded, but No, for 2 good years I was one of his harshest critics with my thick Nigerian accent, always shaking my head like Agama Lizard’s while criticising him.

On that day I learned a lesson of my life that when you see people acting ‘strangely’, show empathy, don’t jump into conclusion on things you have little knowledge of. Please don’t be ‘foolish’ like me.

I was on a thread a while ago where some fellows were criticising pastor Ighodalo, branding him ‘callous’ for appearing calm after the demise of his wife, I was pained in my heart on the thread because I know a little about the battles of life the couple went through together due to the friendship of my wife with the deceased (my wife and Ibidun attended the same secondary school).

I repeat, please don’t be foolish like me.

-Kehinde Fagbuaro works at Bedford Hospital, UK

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