When I speak for Credit Unions, I often tell a “SCARRY STORY”. Now you’re probably thinking that I misspelled “scary story” but I didn’t. I tell about the time when I was 3 years old and cut my chin open on our swing set only to cut it again a few weeks later in the same place leaving the scar that I have to shave around today. I then ask the audience to pair up and tell each other their “SCARRY” stories. Everyone has a scar and scars come with stories. So why is it important to share our story? Empathy.
A few weeks ago I got a call from the manager of our local theater asking if I wanted to be in a musical. Someone had dropped out at the last minute and they needed a replacement. I am not an actor, but I’ve often thought that I would enjoy being in a play and this was an opportunity to mark an item off my bucket list. I, therefore, joined the cast of the Broadway Musical “Be More Chill”. Had I done the slightest bit of due diligence, I would have discovered that, not only was I the oldest person in the play by 25 years, I had to sing in a robe and my underwear. I haven’t spent a lot of time around teenagers, other than my kids and their friends, and it was an eye-opening experience. Now that I was spending a few hours a night with a group of 15-20 year olds, I was finding myself pulling the same pranks I would have pulled when I was in high school. During one of the big dance scenes, one of the female actors drinks alcohol from a baby bottle. The bottle was actually filled with apple juice but it looked real. One night, a few of us were backstage and saw the apple juice baby bottle sitting on a table next to a shaker of salt. That’s when it happened. I thought it would be hilarious to put salt in her baby bottle. Funny prank right? Wrong. As the cast was singing and dancing on stage, she took a swig from the salted bottle and made a horrible face. Those of us who were watching backstage on the monitor laughed hysterically. After the scene she found out that we had played a prank on her and reacted very differently than I expected. I assumed that she would think it was funny and laugh it off, but I didn’t know her “SCARRY story”.
As a child she had been bullied in school and actually had to change schools because of it. When we pulled a seemingly innocent prank, past feelings of being bullied reemerged causing her to break down in tears. I was stunned that a young lady so talented and confident on stage would have such a reaction.
The way we treat our members and coworkers are often based on false assumptions. When we allow ourselves to understand where others come from and are willing to hear their “scarry story”, we can show empathy. Empathy builds trust and trust is a foundation of loyalty.