Pain is real
And it is unevenly distributed.
The only way we have to understand someone else’s pain is to consider it in comparison to our own experiences. It’s a bit like our taste buds: If something is described as chocolatey, but you’ve never tasted chocolate, you have no clue what they’re describing.
It’s easy, then, to dismiss the pain that others report, physical or emotional, if it differs from our experience.
Even if you’ve never felt this particular pain, the other person is feeling it, right now. Perhaps you’ve felt the pain before and don’t think it’s that bad–your customer’s experience might be different.
You might have been insulated from fear or the trauma that has magnified the experience for the person you’re engaging with.
Even if the circumstances wouldn’t have caused you to feel this particular pain, that might not be true for your friend. And even if you can’t imagine the feeling, it’s still real for them.
Pain ignored is still pain. And pain acknowledged is a first step toward easing that pain.