Friday, July 13, 2018

At Least

I learned a new combination of words yesterday that have a complicated and far more difficult connotation than I realized.

"At least . . . "

The words have two definitions, one is clearly mathematical and the other is for use in a life setting:

if nothing else (used to add a positive comment about a generally negative situation).

"the options aren't complete, but at least they're a start"

At lease can be used by well-meaning people who just do not understand a situation to try to make people feel better. But it falls well short. 


My cat ran away.
At least you have two dogs.

My car is broken.
At least you can have it fixed.

My roof is leaking.
At least you have a house.

I have (insert some disease or sickness)
At least it is treatable.

I saw a short video by Dr Brene Brown in a leadership class yesterday about the difference between empathy and sympathy and the use of the words "at least" really resonated with me. If you have a few minutes, watch the whole video, but if you are in a hurry, fast forward to 1:55.

I realized that using the words "at least" minimize the problem and the feelings of the person with the problem. They do not help and they may harm. 

The image I added to the blog highlights the problem. When I fail, I don't want to be reminded that I tried, and failed. I want someone to understand where I am. Maybe just a hug and a reassurance that I am not alone. 

I read another blog on the sympathy and empathy. I found it short and interesting.

What’s The Difference Between Empathy And Sympathy, And Why Has Sympathy Got Such A Bad Name?

I am going to try not to use the words "at least" except when referring to mathematical situations in the future. I realize that "at least" does not convey my true intent when someone brings a problem or concern to my attention.

At least it is Friday.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

No comments:

My Zimbio
Top Stories