At the start of the industrial revolution, physical capabilities and technical skills were the only requirements for getting a job and the same qualities would enable you to excel at it. The “thinking” part of the work was limited to top-tier management. The importance of soft skills started to get attention during the 21st century. Of all the soft skills that make communication effective, empathy takes the lead. What is empathy, and why is it so important? Let’s find out.
More often than not the word empathy is confused with sympathy, but they are quite different from each other. So, first thing’s first, let us get rid of the confusion.
What does the word sympathy imply? It simply means to feel bad for someone’s suffering but not be able to feel it. On the other hand, if you can put yourself in somebody else’s shoes then by definition you are an empathetic person.
Why is empathy so important?
It’s a human need to be understood, and empathy allows people to do just that. Those who possess empathy communicate their ideas in a way that makes them easily understandable to others, and it also comes in handy when you need to understand others.
If we are to say that success comes to us by building effective relationships, then success in relationships comes from being empathetic. But, to my utter dismay, this skill is the most under-used and underdeveloped skill when it comes to the resolution of conflicts.
Empathy at the workplace
Empathy is fundamental at work, especially when teamwork is involved. Higher amounts of empathy at a workplace have been linked to increased sales, productivity, and customer loyalty.
This skill has mostly been emphasized upon from the point of view of the user. Without a doubt the relationship between the product and the user is important but what about the people that are working together to create that product? I guess it is time that we gave importance to empathy when communicating with clients.
Simply put, client communications are very important. When you run a business that is based on providing services, your company thrives only if your communication with clients is effective. If clients see that you are not empathetic towards their wants and needs, they will hit you where it hurts the most and take their business elsewhere. Without empathy, you are missing an opportunity to better connect with your customers, losing the chance to increase your profit margin.
If your client communications leave something to be desired, this could mean you are entering a whirlpool of fewer-sales. These setbacks might not look big at first, but with these, you are setting yourself up for failure.
But does it have to be this way? Definitely not because I am going to give you tips that will assist you in improving your client communications, so your business would flourish even more.
Stop selling and start listening
Active listening doesn’t just mean hearing what the other person might be saying, it also means taking note of body-language, facial-expressions, and non-verbal signaling. You should give the kind of gestures as feedback that encourage the client to give you every bit of information without hesitation.
Keep an eye on their emotions
Being able to read emotions will pave the way forward for the desired outcome. Responding correctly to varying emotions makes communication more effective. For example, if the client is venting to let off some steam, you should not start suggesting solutions before they are done. Emotions are not always in the contrast of black and white, but practicing will take you a long way towards understanding them in a better way.
Validate their emotions
Even if you don’t agree with the client’s point of view, you can always try to put yourself in their shoes. Looking at things from where they stand, outside your perspective will help you offer a better solution.
Show them that you can relate to their problems
When the client talks about their problems, show that you can relate. Instead of showing sympathy and retorting with phrases like, “I know how you feel”, share something similar you might have been through, and ask them if they feel the same way. This will aid you in connecting with your client on a more personal level. And regardless of whether you agree with what they are saying, you should offer to make things better however you can.
Make their priorities your priorities
Every client has a set list of priorities that they hold dear to themselves. If your aim is to connect with your client on a more empathetic level, you could make their priorities your priorities. That way the client will be satisfied knowing that you are aware of their needs and ready to turn their dreams into a reality.
Restate the client’s problem
Restating a problem will give you a chance to save time. You don’t want to offer a product that does not go hand in hand with the demands of the client. To make sure both you and your client are on the same page you could start by saying, “Let me see if I understand correctly…” and finish by asking if your understanding was correct.
Take permission before you move forward
Taking permission before moving forward is not just about being polite, but it’s critical for reaffirming if you and your client are seeing eye to eye. It might come off as a question, but it can be cleverly stated like, “I have some designs that might help”. At this point, if the client still wants to talk about the problem, then you can go back to being an attentive listener.
There are no specific rules that one could follow to become empathetic overnight. It takes time and effort to master it. In a business environment, there is always a chance of coming across a situation you have never dealt with, but as long you can recognize the needs of others, you’ll be able to do things that benefit them in one way or another. You can have great ideas, however, if you ignore your audience they will not be relatable to anyone. Take into account the perspective of others and your communication will be better than ever.