Empathy in business is bound to ensure you find more results with potential customers than compassion alone. Having spent over 5 years as a sounding board to customers in a contact center I know without doubt empathy wins. The ability to understand someone’s frustration and thinking goes along way with connecting and eventually successfully servicing your customer.
People know when you are empathetic and when you are scripting. There is a fluid natural way of talking to someone in customer service while trying to truly understand the problem they present you with. When talking to someone and being scripted there is more of a robotic way of interacting that is stilted and even leaves room for not actively listening. Customers will express their aggravations about the situation at hand and if someone is trying to follow a script rather than communicating openly the customer will know instantly and shut down.
There are pitfalls to acting as if you are empathizing too much. You can sound as if you are a broken record if you continually say “I understand” without articulating their problem back to them proving you understood the situation at hand. Empathy is when you have placed yourself in someone else’s emotional shoes. You can connect and understand the range of emotions they are going through because you are putting yourself figuratively in their place.
Sympathy and compassion are feelings but not as powerful or as compelling as empathy. Compassion is a good tool and is the starting board towards learning to be empathic. You would not be able to truly empathize with someone unless you have first learned to have compassion for your fellow-man. Empathy is a step higher than compassion and sympathy.
Empathy tends to be stronger with those who have similar experiences or a strong imagination. If you have not experienced the same situation but can imagine how you would feel should it occur to you then you can successfully empathize with your fellow human. You are able to connect on a higher level with your customer and truly come from a place where you want to solve their problem and build a true rapport with your customer then the end company of increasing their monetary value.
A truly valuable relationship builds on common ground has nowhere to go but to expand and grow. A real commitment and change can spread as fast as discontent. Happy customers are just as likely to spread the word as upset and angry ones will. Empathy not only enables you to better serve your customers but also will enable you to grow and improve within yourself as you connect and understand those around.
Welcome to a new year and resolutions abound. I find that I never keep my resolutions so I have stopped making promises I know I do not intend to keep. This does not mean there are habits I should ignore or not strive to improve this year. As a mother to young children and adult step-sons I find the most difficult task is finding a healthy balance between work and life. There are scholarly articles about this very subject. I have stumbled across many social media blog pieces about estimated number of Americans who did not take a vacation day in 2014. There are those who need thrive on working. They relax while doing their job because it fulfills them. Majority of us though are working a job to get from point A to point B. Those of us working for other means are the ones who need to start using our vacation days.
This is not a good way to start another year. The holiday season is over but as parents we are already starting to plan for the next one in the back of our heads. We are seeing everything we want to give to our children and maybe even to ourselves. These ideals and material things wear heavily on us. Because if this we force ourselves to work longer hours and sacrifice our personal time as we make ends meet or try to propel our careers ahead to this imaginary place where everything will be better.
This mindset of “sacrifice now for a better future” is not real if we are constantly sacrificing now every day but never actually getting to our ideal future. Finding a healthy balance between work and life can help clear the cobwebs and may even motivate you in the areas that need better focus. There are studies that prove taking a vacation day (even just one day!) to rest and recoup makes you a better employee. There is a reason why companies give their employees vacation days. They know their employees who regularly take vacations come back recharged and better than before they left.
There are small ways to make big changes. Taking the time to get up an hour earlier in the morning to spend with your partner, children or even just reading can make a huge difference. There are articles and blogs written by people who have started these small habits and from their own personal experiences have seen the benefits of just taking small amounts of time for themselves. I have found when I have a difficult task at work and I am hitting constant road blocks that the answer comes to me when I least expect it. I have forced myself to go and play with my young children making up silly stories and just laughing with them and all of a sudden the answer to my work problem presents itself. Why? This is because I stopped stressing over it and relaxed. The endorphins cleared the clutter and I was able to think clearly without anxiety because I was calm. This also helps keep us healthy. The more leisure time and rest we give ourselves the more we are able to avoid getting sick especially during the winter months.
You do not have to start a crash diet or make unreasonable promises about going to the gym 7 days a week. Small changes make the difference. Getting up an hour earlier and playing with your kids can help your energy level. Going to bed early instead of staring at your work computer for an extra few hours while not getting anything productive done can make a difference in how well you sleep. Reading before bed can help you fall asleep faster especially if you are reading an actual book instead of a lighted screen. Small baby steps to change engrained habits is what will make a New Year’s resolution successful and make you see a difference not only in how productive you are at work but at how much you enjoy your personal time.
Social Media has revolutionized this generations way of communicating. Information is shared instantaneously on a global level in a way it has never been capable of at any point in history. We are living in the age of technology that past generations could only dream of. The premise of the book 1984 does not seem so far-fetched now that we have a bracelet that can project an image on your wrist replacing a smart phone. It is a matter of time when it will not seem so unreasonable that a car will fly and be fueled by recycling (FYI that was a Back to the Future Reference in-case you missed). But as with any changes one should be cautious of the information being shared.
Everyone has experienced junk email, junk snail mail, and marketing scam phone calls. It should not come as a surprise that the same is now a constant daily practice on every social media platform. There is nothing wrong with double checking and triple checking a source before sharing bad information and news with your followers. It is always good practice to avoid falling into a scam trap. With the advances being made on a daily basis in technology scammers are making just as many advances. Viruses and malware are spreading even faster, are more complicated and can expose things we never intended to share.
There seems to be a belief that now that we live in 2014 and have made leaps and bounds in the field of technology that it has translated to how we handle our personal experiences and lives. This generation growing up now as preteens, teens and young adults have no sense of decorum or privacy. Every experience needs to be showcased as if we all live in fishbowls. The problem with this mentality is once something is out there for the whole world to see in the black hole that is the internet it cannot be taken back. Your opinion, your experience, your personal life is now fodder for anyone globally to dissect and ridicule.
This takes the concept of “Reality TV” to the extreme. Everyone is feeding off of other users’ experiences or what they say they have experienced. The younger generations are not learning to converse with their peers or elders. They take information on an open platform as it is without first checking the sources to confirm the information is accurate and real. We live in a culture of instant gratification which is impacting the direction in which our world is headed in. Students are no longer opening a book to confirm the source of a bit of information so there is a constant spread of bad history, incorrect news and a constant flow of negative opinions and damaging experiences to people who do not deserve it.
Social Media along with the technology we have at our finger tips are powerful tools. These tools can change lives, can spark a revolution for good or bad if used correctly. Everyone should know how to use these tools but as with everything there should be a disclaimer or an unspoken rule that we do not forget that they are tools only and to constantly question the information presented. We should want to continue to practice the habits our teachers gave us in researching papers or essays in school. Beware the power of Social Media on your personal life and question something that is spread so easily but has no real source to show its worth. Social Media is going nowhere it is here to stay. We have embraced it and there is no reason that we shouldn’t. We just have to remember we have to live and enjoy our lives so we can share real factual experiences instead of living vicariously through someone else.