Dear Jido – May 2024

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Dear Jido, 

When friends or co-workers tell me about personal problems or physical issues they are experiencing, and I have had similar issues, I’m at a loss as to whether I should share my experience. 

I have often been through the same thing they are describing, or I know someone who has, and I have relayed those experiences in the past. What I am hoping to do is put the person at ease, knowing that others have experienced the same thing, or to pass along some tips for dealing with their situation. Recently, though, I feel as if responding this way is like one-upping them or trying to turn the attention on myself. 

Any advice for relaying compassion without seeming self-centered? 

Signed, 

 

A Compassionate Fellow 

 

Dear Compassionate, 

 

I know exactly how you feel. The other day in shul, a man came over to me and told me about a problem he was having with his son. I told him, “When my kids were in yeshiva…” 

 

Oh, sorry. I was doing what you said you didn’t want to do. 

 

You see? It’s a very common problem – to throw yourself into the middle. 

 

The best way to give advice and have it accepted is to make the other person the center of attention and make him think on his own. Ask HIM leading questions based on your own experiences of what works.  Ask him, “What do YOU think you should do?” “Did you try X, Y, Z?” “Do you know Doctor So-and-So? Many people have used him for that.”   

 

Basically, ask him if he’s tried everything that you already know has succeeded for you, or others, in such a way that he reaches his own conclusion.  Just be sure to leave out the word “I.” This way, since it becomes his idea, he will be much more likely to act on it. And you will be looked upon as a source of wisdom, caring, and compassion. 

 

Do you think you can do that? That’s what I do.  

 

Oops, sorry. I just did it again… 

 

Jido