Not only is empathy a vitally important part of the selling process; it is also a vitally important part of the human process. This is true whether trying to understand why someone is resistant to our viewpoint or if we are simply attempting to help them through an issue or difficult time.
I believe that in any relationship — business or personal — empathy is a key differentiator between the successful and the unsuccessful. Those who have the talent and skill; both at having empathy and being able to communicate empathy are at a huge advantage over those who don’t.
Dictionary.com defines Empathy as “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” Being a simple fellow, I just say it is really nothing more than — as the saying goes — putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.
If we have similarities in experience, we might actually be able to really identify; to know what and/or how they are feeling.
But, what if that is not the case? Let’s face it; there are times when not only do we not know exactly how they feel…we have absolutely no idea how they feel!
Yet, we can still be empathetic. You see, empathy doesn’t necessarily mean you actually feel what the other person feels. The truth is, you might not. It does mean you communicate that you understand they are feeling … something.
When someone with true empathy listens…the other person feels truly heard. And feeling heard is what often makes the difference.
In a Facebook discussion, I suggested that I even think we can feel (or at least identify with) a similar emotion even if we don’t know exactly what/how they are feeling, and that’s what communicates to them that we care. In response, Pastor Tom Sims wrote, “there is always something inside of us, some memory of personal pain or struggle that unites us in a common humanity and enables us to relate in compassion.” WOW!
And, if that wasn’t an exquisite enough thought, Pamela McBride followed that up by saying, “Compassion is only a heart beat away when we tap into our own struggles.”
Oh, have I ever mentioned that I have the world’s coolest friends and readers?