In the previous article we witnessed totally opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of empathy; one person’s seemingly total lack of it provided no (actually, negative) value to my “customer experience” while — in total contrast — her associate’s excellent display of such added great value. Night and day!
At the conclusion, I said that we’d now look at the “key to communicating empathy.”
So, what is the key to communicating empathy? With apologies for appearing to have asked a trick question, the answer is:
To Communicate Empathy!
Yes, that is the key to communicating empathy. It’s communicating that empathy.
Let’s face it; I don’t personally know that first TSA employee who came across as so cold and uncaring. She might be the kindest person in the world, contribute much of her money to charity, feed the homeless, take in stray animals and more. I don’t know.
What I do know is that — if she had felt any kind of empathy for the angst I was experiencing — she sure didn’t communicate it. I got the distinct feeling she could not have cared less and just saw me as one of a procession of passengers who waste her time during the day.
The other TSA employee clearly communicated that his mission was to help me feel more secure in the knowledge that my videos would be totally safe going through that machine.
He added great; he added immense value to the exchange.
And, it was because he communicated that empathy.
During my live presentations, I often say, ‘It isn’t enough to ‘be’ or ‘feel’ or even ‘do’ the thing…you must communicate that you ‘are’ or ‘feel’ or ‘did’ the thing.”
When you cannot deliver the product on time, it’s not enough that you are doing everything you can in order to finish and deliver asap…you must communicate this to your client. Why? Because, unless you do, she has know way of knowing any different.
This comes right back to empathy. Empathy is really nothing more than “putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.” It’s considering their feelings regarding their unique situation. The value comes with COMMUNICATING such.
It doesn’t mean you “know” exactly how they feel, because we cannot know exactly how another person feels, but we can certainly communicate that we understand they are feeling something and do our very best to assuage their fears.
And, while verbal communication is certainly an important method of doing so, our actions can make the point just as well.
GE Healthcare Field Engineer Shawn Bailey did this beautifully when — rather than just emotionlessly fixing a CT Scan machine — he first brought the frightened little four-year-old patient a teddy bear from the gift store, calming and assuring not only her, but her parents and the nurses and technicians on-hand.
Having empathy is a great start, but it’s not enough. Communicating that empathy is what makes the difference and what is ultimately the “Value Difference.”