“Sorry” doesn’t mean you caused the pain. It merely means that you see it, that you’ve felt pain before in your life as well, that you are open to a connection.
Our ability to bring people along is critical because we’re playing a long game, even an infinite one. Back and forth, day by day, with many of the same people. One day, it will be reversed, and a classmate or co-worker or competitor will be the one that can listen and care about the pain. A pain that might feel very similar.
Gloating or silence closes the door. Empathy, on the other hand, and the action of speech, of moderation, of connection, can change everything. And if it hasn’t been present before, it can start right now.
“I see you. I’m sorry for what you’re feeling. How can I help?”