What’s Empathy Got to Do with It?

In speaking with some Managing Director friends in banking, they tell me that competition is stronger than ever after the crisis. They find it even more critical to differentiate themselves “by really listening to our clients so that we can help them with their problems – rather than competing with others on price.”

They recognize that it is strong, solid relationships that are at the core of all their successful business interactions.

“It’s all about Empathy – understanding who the client really is and how to sell to their role.”

A Word about Empathy

With empathy, I identify with the feelings of another.  This understanding allows me to imaginatively enter into another person’s feeling – and care about it.

A colleague of mine would often say, “without empathy you are just another Internet site.”

To get to empathy is to engage in dialogue with our clients. Over time, this engagement builds trust and relationships that are unbreakable. These relationships are fostered and proven through one excellent interaction after another.

We want to be the Go-To people – to become the advisors that are known to solve the critical issues of our clients – rather than merely selling capital or products.”

What it takes

Engaging in dialogue requires us to be fully present, listen, and show that we care. It takes time and it takes patience. And discovering how someone feels and having empathy is made clear by what we say and by how we behave.

Some people are naturally empathic. Others may need to work on these skills – which can be taught.  Engage someone in dialogue with the following: focus with a genuine interest in the other person, have the knack of asking good questions that inquire – and be intentional about listening. Only then can you understand their feelings and thoughts and identify with them.

What conspires against this?  Being swept up into fast-paced – getting things done quickly. My advice: Stop, slow down, take your time, breathe and engage.

The benefit is that deeper relationships and engagement with your clients helps to drive growth and market share, and you enjoy your work because when you see it as a people business – it is more satisfying.  How great it is for your brand to become synonymous with trust & credibility.

I had a situation where a client who sells to clients had grown to view them not as people or individuals, but as (in his words) a “wall” of inanimate objects. This defensive routine blocked the very necessary relationships he needs to succeed in his role.

After this was solved by giving him tools to be present in the moment, to impact others, to give and receive rapport, to listen comfortably taking in cues – he began to easily and confidently engage with his clients.

The outcome is that he no longer feared connection and he was able to create an exchange that found deeper understanding and it opened up the potential to solve his client’s problems for them. And these actions create greater business results for the organization.

And recently, at the end of a program, I asked the participants, “what is the one thing that you’ve learned today that you can take into your business tomorrow to create greater success?”  And one guy said, “Empathy”.

So look at the Greek empatheia – it translates to Passion – “in pathos” or in feeling.

And Jack Welch puts it best:

“I look for Passion in a leader.  By that I mean a heartfelt, deep and authentic excitement about life and work.

People with passion care — really care in their bones — about neighbors, employees, colleagues and friends winning. They love to learn and grow themselves, and they get a kick when the people around them do the same.”

And if you’d like some more help understanding what EMPATHY is, watch this video: