Communicating with Empathy in Business

Jon Business Excellence

This original article by Helen Mitas was published in Women with Drive
Sponsored by Porsche

Successful business is all about the heart and soul of communication. The most effective way of engaging prospects, motivating employees and retaining clients is to show them that you care.

Where once it was considered a weakness to show emotions in business, it is now understood to be one of the most powerful tools to build others’ trust in you, your business and your brand. If you are in any doubt, take a look at some of the most influential people in the world today like Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson and even Canadian President Justin Trudeau.

These people operate in different fields of influence, yet none are afraid to lead with their heart. People around the globe are emotionally connected to them because these inspiring leaders demonstrate they know what people want and deliver it to them.

Connections happen when people see that you can help them resolve a problem, fear or frustration that is impacting their life. That connection deepens when you show someone that you understand his or her unique pain point. Then they become more open to you and your solutions, which in turn leads to solid business results.

Show empathy, not sympathy 

When we communicate with empathy we show an understanding of the other person’s situation, circumstances and motives. Empathy enables us to stand in someone else’s shoes and connect with them in a powerful way.

Sympathy, on the other hand, indicates a disconnection from the other person’s situation. It is a feeling we give to them instead of share with them. When we express sympathy, we indicate that they are alone in their suffering.

Sympathy may come easier to you than empathy because the latter requires you to put aside your own judgments and thoughts to focus on what the other person is sharing with you. But when you communicate with empathy, you will notice that rapport is strengthened and conversations flow with greater ease as people start feeling safer in your company.

Communicating with Empathy 

When communicating with empathy, how you say something is just as important as what you say. It is important to find a balance. You must speak from your left and right brain, from the head and heart.

If we act solely from the head when resolving an issue, the other person may feel that we do not really care and we miss out on building a higher level of trust.

But if we are too empathetic and act only from the heart without a focus or goal, the conversation may not lead to a solution. So while we may build rapport, we may not give the other person the confidence in our skill or capability to help them.

How to build empathy

Here are four simple ways to use empathy to create a greater connection with others:

Listen. Do not just go through the motions of hearing someone talk. Really listen to what they are saying and use your intuition to hear what they are not saying.

Use their name every now and then during the conversation. People love hearing their name. It makes them feel significant, which is a basic human need.

When communicating back to them, repeat the words they have used to describe their perspective and specific circumstances. This shows that you have listened to what they have said and also helps you double check that they really did say what you heard.

Remember personal details about the other person by writing notes that you can refer to before your next discussion. If they mentioned an upcoming holiday, ask them how it went. This tells them that they matter to you.

Remember that using empathy is a powerful communication tool with all the stakeholders in your professional life. When they understand that you truly relate to what they are trying to express, it opens the way for you to create solutions, negotiate and generate collaborations that can only result in a win-win situation for everyone.

Helen Mitas