Sat | Jul 21, 2018

Trevor E.S. Smith | Losing Touch

Published:Sunday | July 24, 2016 | 12:00 AM

In the past week, three incidents have grabbed my attention and highlight an issue that needs to be addressed.

On Sunday, someone stopped in the middle of conversation and correctly observed that I was "not myself".

On Wednesday, a new client was trying to reach me while I was out of office. I returned her call from a financial institution during my fifth hour of waiting and jumping around trying to complete what should have been a simple task. She responded via email indicating that I seemed to be agitated.

On Friday, two security guards drove their colleague to his estranged common-law wife's workplace and waited in the car, unaware that he was on a murder-suicide mission. They were out of touch with his emotional state and missed the 'mask' he was wearing.

The incidents highlight the risk of losing touch and the benefits of being sensitive.

The feedback that I received shook me into shifting my mindset. I put aside the distractions and regained focus on 'who I needed to be'. I readied myself for my role on Sunday and clarified the situation with my client on Wednesday.

This took place because people were emotionally sensitive and, critically, were open and honest enough to share their observations. I fear that we are losing touch with others.

We need more of the sensitive souls who are clued in to when something is not right with those around us, and are not afraid to share their observation. Their approach is not pushy and offensive, and their attuned insights and concern remove any resistance you would have had about the invasion of your privacy.

Could this kind of individual have made a difference in preventing some of the mass killings?

Can more sensitive friends, neighbours and colleagues reduce the level of domestic violence?




1 Self-denial

We are losing touch because we are too absorbed in our selves. We are so busy looking out for 'me' that it is difficult to be emotionally sensitive to the needs and aspirations of others. We may take some interest, but making the time to really understand and appreciate the true situation is crowded out by the demands of 'me'.

2 Bravery

Sometimes we fail to dig deeper or be frank and honest in our dealings with others because we fear a negative response. We fear they might think it is none of our business or that they might be offended.

Doing good is not always easy, comfortable and without risk. Count the potential cost of your inaction and step up to make a difference.

3 Love

'Love your neighbour as yourself'.

If we want for others what we want for ourselves and our loved ones, we will be more caring and attentive. We will put ourselves in a position to be more closely linked to others. That emotional connection is what will allow us to discern when something is out of place.

4 Act

Procrastination and inertia - especially in the face of the demands of 'me'. If we are going to make a difference, we have to act. Having good intentions and a lot of sympathy really do not make a difference.

We have to force ourselves to take action - even when we have a lot on our plate, or are unsure of how to proceed or how our intervention will be received.




We can make a difference in the level of violence in our community by being more meaningfully in touch with others. Some people are finding it difficult to meet the challenges that they are facing, and a timely intervention from a caring soul might just prevent them from snapping.

Similarly, sharing an observation about a colleague's mood might jolt them back into being their best self.

Let us make a commitment to being more mindful and to take appropriate action.

If you are in a leadership role, I need your input on a VIP issue:

• Trevor E.S. Smith is a behaviour modification coach. Email: