Empathy is one of the most important qualities of leadership.
Even if you do not plan to lead a lot of people, you can become a much more influential person within your life and the daily interactions that you have if you learn to walk in empathy.
Empathy does not come inherently to us. Empathy is a skill that has to be practiced. You have to constantly be aware of working on walking on empathy.
The majority of us think we walk in more empathy than we actually do.
If you were to really step back and observe the way that you think and approach people daily, you would be surprised at how much you can improve on interacting with people through empathy.
How much do you actually think about the perspective that other people are coming from? How much do you try to put yourself in other people’s shoes to understand the why behind what they are saying? How often to you try to remove your own biases and own life experiences to really understand the person in front of you?
These are tough questions. But if you can learn to walk in empathy every day, you will become a much more influential person.
Empathy is a huge part of effective customer service. The customer service that will get people coming back over and over again is service that is based in understanding and empathy.
You have to understand where your clients are, hear where they are coming from, and understand what they need so that you know how to best serve them.
When I was a hotel manager, there was one weekend where we were incredibly packed. We did not have any free rooms for the night. We had a guest that walked in with his family. When they walked into the hotel, you could see how tired this family was. They went to the front desk and the agent began checking them into the hotel. When the agent told the man what room they had booked for him, he got extremely irate. He said that that was not the room that he booked, because it was not large enough for his family.
The agent called me up to talk with him. He slammed his hand on the desk and began yelling. He told me that he absolutely was not going to deal with this and he was not going to have his family stay in that room.
Technically, what we were telling him was correct. We told him the room that he booked and that it was the only free room that we had that night. We tried to explain to him the facts of the situation, but that was not what he needed.
What he needed in that moment was for someone to hear him. He needed us to hear that he was stressed out and he was tired. I realized that I needed to stop back and let him talk. As he was talking, I looked over at his wife who was holding her daughter and her son was holding her by the waist and they looked exhausted. He wanted us to hear that their family had had a long day and had a bad experience at the previous hotel. He wanted us to listen and understand where they are coming from.
Once I started engaging with him in a way that he understood that I was able to hear him and understand him and that I knew that he had every reason to be upset, we were able to talk through it.
Later that evening he came up and apologized and said to me – I just needed you to hear what I was saying.
And that is exactly what empathy is. That is an example of how we have to constantly think about how to walk in empathy.
Working from a place of empathy will make you more competitive. It will differentiate you from everyone else who does not treat their clients with empathy.
If you are trying constantly to hear and understand the people that you work with better than everyone else around them, that is a hard thing for people to come in and take. That is how you build loyalty.
The clients that you treat with empathy will become your brand ambassadors and communicate to others the different way that you treat your clients.
Walking in empathy is showing your clients that they matter. Through both your words and your actions.
It is more powerful to approach people with understanding. Even if that person is factually wrong. Even if their perspective seems skewed, you will be more influential if you first try to understand them than if you try to prove that you are right.
It is through understanding that you are able to resolve issues, build stronger relationships, and serve people most effectively.
Practice being more empathetic in your personal life and in your business life. It will cause you to become wiser and more influential. You will understand people more and will in turn be able to help people more effectively.
Here is to a week of laying down your own perspective and taking time to understand those around you.
You are wonderful and vital to this world.
David L. Joyner and the Joyner Media & Strategies Team