By: Kathy A. Weckwerth
It was 19 years ago that I picked up the phone and answered politely, “Hello, law office.” The woman on the other end of the line was very snappy. Actually, snappy doesn’t even begin to describe it. She was downright unkind.
The voice began, “I want answers and I want them now!” She continued and insisted that I would help her, I would do this and that, and yet, she was the opposing counsel.
Serving as a legal assistant in the office, I could help her with a few things, but because of her attitude, I cringed as she continued to lambast me with what our office was doing wrong.
Something hit me hard … a thought … that perhaps, just maybe she was having trouble. I paused and asked her, “Debra, are you okay today?” Not condescending, not unkind, just genuine.
“What?” she asked.
“Well, you just seem kind of upset and I’m wondering if you’re having a bad day, or maybe something is horribly wrong? “I questioned.
There was a quick few seconds of silence and she answered, “Well, actually, yes. I fell and hurt my back and I just feel awful. The days are so long at work and another lawyer just left for vacation so my work load doubled.”
On and on Debra went with her woes as I quietly listened. When she finished I said to her, “Debra, let’s pray together.” I didn’t know if Debra believed in Jesus, I didn’t know if she ever set foot inside of a church, but I knew that Debra was stressed, needed help, and felt no one cared.
As an assistant to the opposing counsel to Debra, I should have been mean, told her to jump in a river, and hung up the phone. My boss accused me of being “too nice” to the other side whenever we were preparing a case. But I needed to help someone that needed help.
From that moment on, Debra called regularly, even when she moved on to another office. I would listen, chat and pray.
And then something interesting happened. The more that our clients called and talked about their aches and pains from their accidents, the more I began to listen and to pray with them. I created a great repore and felt that I was encouraging those who needed prayer and hope.
So often, this can create a short fuse and bring out the worst in people. If I would have responded to Debra as I felt she deserved, it wouldn’t have been my best version of myself.
I will never forget the lesson I learned from one crabby phone call. And so today, when someone snapped at me, I just paused and said, “Hey, what’s going on in your world? Are you doing okay?“
We never really know what’s going on in other people’s lives until we find out. Right?