The story of a day in the life of an unsuccessful office worker

11:16am Empathy for colleagues who suffer misfortune

In the preceding posts, I discussed the importance of adopting a gracious attitude toward the success of your colleagues. 

Equally important is showing empathy toward colleagues who suffer misfortune. 

I have two more invoices which I ‘need’ to follow up with the women in the Credit Department. For one of these invoices, I am directed to Stacey Thompson, the – the tall, slender, brown-haired thirty-one year old who handles dealings with the client from a collections perspective. 

Stacey’s boyfriend is a karate instructor, so she is not a candidate for office romance. 

Nevertheless, I strike up a conversation - and soon learn that their relationship ended after he was seen with another woman. 

“Really? That’s terrible.”  

My response assumes a sympathetic tone, but in fact, there is nothing ‘terrible’ about this at all. Stacey is back in the field – this is great news! 

But now is not the time to show excitement. Appropriate sensitivity will go a long way toward winning her heart. 

I have an opportunity, but I must conceal my delight. 

“I’m really sorry to hear that,” I lie. 

“I saw them together,” she explains. “She looks about twenty for crying out loud. She’s ugly and she’s fat as anything. Why he cheated on me for her – I don’t know.” 

Actually, I think it’s his cousin. But Stacey need not know this. 

I need not interfere. I should mind my own business, cross my fingers and hope that luck is on my side. 

“You did the right thing to break it off,” I assure her. “You deserve better. You deserve someone you can trust. 

“That’s exactly right, Stewie. I do deserve better – and I’m glad I caught him when I did.” 

Great! I am saying all the right things. Keep it up Stewie. 

“You know, Stewie, next time, I’ll choose someone I can trust. Someone more like – well, like you for instance, who is honest and trustworthy.” 

Did I hear that correctly? Someone like me?  Baby, I’m in the game here! Way to go, Stewie!  

Shall I wait a couple of weeks or should I strike now and catch her on the rebound?  

“But you know what?” she continues. “I think I’ve had enough of guys for the time being. Yeah, I think I’ll take a break from the whole relationship thing if you know what I mean.” 

OK, the rebound idea is out of the question.  

Nevertheless, this episode demonstrates the importance of showing empathy toward colleagues who suffer misfortune.  

In all cases, it helps to build harmony and strengthen workplace relationships. In the case of managers, it may have a positive impact on your performance review. 

And you never know. You might just catch a vulnerable colleague on the rebound. 


  1. December 22nd, 2007 | 7:50 pm

    I personally would take the opportunity the same way a boxer makes the most of a groggy opponent. But you made a right decision not to jump the gun. I think she still is vulnerable though, so just keep your moves discreet. Beware of the ex, as he may be possessive.

    Take Muay Thai lessons just in case.

  2. April 26th, 2012 | 4:22 am

    […] A victory for one may just be the encouragement the other needs. Don’t just focus on your own problems. Despite your situation, see how you can bring your comrade up. […]

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