A good friend of mine nearly died when he was 35 years old. Something to do with a heart valve.
He needed an eight-hour operation.
Before the operation, the surgeon looked at my friend and said, “I’m not worried about you. There are going to be 26 experts in the room all working together to make sure that you are OK in every way. I trust these people without question, and I’ll be there every step to make sure. You’ll be OK.”
Then the Dr. turned to my friend’s wife and said, “But I am worried about you. You’ll be off on your own, waiting, and it can feel like an eternity…” The doctor proceeded to tell my friend’s wife some things that would help her get through the waiting and some resources that were available to her.
With this one act, this unusual surgeon took beautiful care of two people. My friend was comforted by the lack of worry, while his wife was validated and comforted by the human concern.
Then, a few hours into the eight-hour surgery, the doctor paused to do something unforgettable. He called my friend’s wife on her cellphone from the operating theater just to tell her that everything was going just right and to calm her mind.
Good care. Good customer service. But more than that. An inspiring experience created out of pure empathy. And the result, my friend and his wife and enormous numbers of people have been touched by this. The surgeon taught an unforgettable lesson in empathy, and they will never forget it.
Neither will I.