Sympathize With the One You Hurt

Sandy entered upon hearing what sounded like a gruff, “Come in.”

She tip-toed inside her boss’s office and waited for him to look up from whatever important documents held his attention captive. Sandy shuffled her feet while he arranged the edges of 8 1/2 x 11 pages in pristine order.

His brows were still furrowed when he made eye contact. “What can I help you with?”

Sandy’s stomach quivered, and she brushed her bangs from her eyes. “I need to tell you about something I did. Last month’s quarterly reports were filed late.”

“We all make mistakes,” her boss chuckled and picked the stack of papers back up after offering her a dismissive hand.

“This one will cost us a lot of money in fines and penalties.”

His hands froze. “How much?”

She gave him the figure and watched the color drain from his face. “Sir, I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. I didn’t mean to add to your stress.”

The adam’s apple in his throat bobbed swiftly up and down a few times before he spoke. “I appreciate your attitude.”

“You shouldn’t have to deal with my mistakes, so I’m willing to pay the penalties and extra interest.” Sandy fidgeted with her fingers and looked down, “But could you take it out in payments?”

After several moments reflection, Sandy’s boss stood up. “I think I have a better idea.”

She held her breath and waited for his verdict. She felt like a lone duck in someone else’s pond. Would he shoo her away, or allow her to stay? The unknown was worse than any punishment she could imagine.

Practicing Teshuvah isn’t easy, but the steps are simple. Too often we don’t take into account the feelings, consequences, or outcomes our actions create for others. In Sandy’s case, her mistake added undue stress to her boss’s already pressurized day. But sympathizing with someone we cause hardship for reduces the sting. And inches us closer to the freedom we seek.

What about you? Do you assume your actions don’t really affect others, or do you put yourself in their shoes and exercise sympathy for the difficulty you helped create.

Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Expert, Certified Personality Trainer, Communications Specialist, speaker, and writer. She lives in Missouri. Contact her via or



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