the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner—Merriam Webster
I recall when I understood what empathy meant, and began to apply it to situations in business, personal relationships with friends, family and even complete strangers…my life changed immediately! Once I realized that I could accomplish so much more by simply listening to what people had to say …things started to make more sense. Maybe I wasn’t as smart as I thought!? It’s almost like a light switch just turned on for me, and the biggest change I noticed first was that I became a better salesman overnight!
When I was in my mid-twenties, I had just landed a great sales job that I was highly underqualified for.(A story for another time) We sold software that was cutting edge technology (at the time) allowing business owners to live-track their fleet of vehicles via GPS minute by minute while out in the field. It produced historical reporting as well, which was extremely valuable data if utilized.
I was humbled being surrounded by experienced, well-groomed sales professionals who had years of experience over me. I knew to keep my mouth shut, observe what “NOT” to do and figure out the most efficient ways to operate and close business. Afterall, I wasn't even qualified to be there in the first place...
I was humbled being surrounded by experienced, well-groomed sales professionals.
Meeting with business owners was exciting! I had this cool software that would allow them to know where all of the company vehicles were while away from the business, but I was surprised at many of the reactions I got. A lot of business owners feared that tracking the vehicles their employees were driving all day would cause everyone to quit. This was where empathy really helped me successfully close business. If I were a business owner (which at the time I hadn’t been) would I want to know what my staff was doing all day in vehicles that I owned, paid for, insured and ultimately assumed liability for? Well, there is NO WAY I would NOT want to have such information. However, I understood not wanting to be the person that doesn’t trust his staff, especially when some had worked there for decades. Being empathetic to both sides allowed me to offer solutions that would make sense to the staff, and the business owner wasn't seen as an untrusting, micro-managing boss.
Those that didn't take time to empathize both sides of the coin weren't able to overcome most of the objections they faced. By demonstrating that I comprehended where they were coming from, it often made them feel more at ease. In many cases I would explain to them that it was all about how it was presented to their employees. Rather than announcing that everyone would be tracked every minute of the day, make it a positive implementation. This had to be done for insurance purposes, cutting fuel expenses, better customer service and efficiency. Bottom line, anyone that was extremely opposed to it probably had reason, and that’s liability and stress that needed to be cleaned up anyway. Those who were doing their job efficiently and had integrity would be excited about being able to demonstrate their hard work and efforts that wasn’t necessarily recognized before. Offer bonuses to those adhering to the rules, and create a more positive environment! After all, the significant amount of money that would be saved would afford higher pay to those deserving!
The point I’m making with this example is that empathy played a huge role in convincing business owners why they needed such an amazing software program. If I'm a business owner, what are the things that this software offers that I would want? I would want to know how I can cut expenses and increase efficiency. What business owner doesn't want these things? So, by learning what the relationship was like among the staff and business owners I was able to then empathize with both sides to overcome whatever the objections might be...including their fear of implementing a tracking system. Empathy played a huge role in my success at this company in both selling, and eventually managing sales teams and running my own branch.
So, for all of you out there working every day to achieve whatever it is you're after, learn to incorporate empathy into your daily happenings. Remember the Golden Rule, and treat people how you would want to be treated! Be patient and listen to what people say, and think about if you were in their shoes how you would want the conversation to go. You'd at the very least want to be heard, so why not listen to them?! The results will exceed your expectations more times than not. Before you make certain decisions, just empathize and you just might find yourself going about your everyday life in a more positive nature, and achieving more positive results. The great thing about empathy is that it can be learned, and when it is…things will change for the better at work, home and in life!
And, just FYI…my amazing son (age 11) knows the difference between empathy and sympathy, and literally demonstrates both on the daily!
A quick shout out before I wrap this up:
One of the most influential people I follow, admire, learn from and consider a mentor even though he has no clue who the hell I am, is a guy called Gary Vaynerchuk. (A.K.A. Gary Vee) I highly recommend you check out his audio clips on just about every topic, read his blogs and follow him on any SM site you use…he’ll be on it. This guy is a machine, ultra- successful, crazy as shit and is usually the loudest person in the room. The cool thing about this guy is wherever he goes people want his advice, or opinion on whatever it is they're trying to accomplish. I've watched, listened and read about some of the questions that people ask Gary, and some are so ridiculous most people wouldn't even respond. But whether it's on his radio show, or random people on the street...before he throws out advice or tells you what he thinks...he listens and asks questions. He doesn't assume you're an idiot before your prove to be one, and I admire that. He doesn’t waste time on B.S., just always on point, and to the point much like myself! Gary Vee has a massive following, and most of you have likely heard of him, many of you follow him…but for those who haven’t or don’t you can start right now http://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/blog
Thanks for reading, and remember:
"Telling people you're accomplished OR successful isn't necessary WHEN YOU ARE, because actions produce results, and results speak volumes!"
My motto: "SHOW ME, DON'T TELL ME"