Having empathy is extremely important for a successful business owner in order to understand the needs, desires and motivations of his/her target customer.
Empathy is also referred to as emotional intelligence and is key to developing successful business relationships. However, many people struggle with empathy. Research has shown that because many of us spend time on the computer and watch TV, we don’t interact with people as much, and therefore don’t get as many "clues" as to what a person is thinking and feeling, which means we struggle to have empathy with them.
Fortunately, we can improve our empathy. But first, we have to know what it is.
What Is Empathy?
Empathy can be defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It refers to the ability to "step inside another person’s shoes" and try to understand their experience, thoughts, feelings and motivations. The holiday season, is often very difficult for many and a conscious display of empathy during this time will go a long way.
Understanding Feelings and Motives
The best business owners (and managers) are able to understand the "pain points" of their customers and try to offer solutions that will really solve their problem. The worst business owners (and managers) are like used car salesmen, just trying to sell anything to anyone to make money and get it off the car lot.
Empathetic people have the ability to understand others and make them feel at ease. When a person feels at ease, that builds the kind of trust, rapport, ability to communicate, and openness required for doing business with you.
Empathy, Not Charisma
We all tend to admire leaders who stand out in the world. They seem like big, bold trailblazers. You probably have a couple of sales staff who seem so good at their jobs that they could sell snow to a polar bear.
But while it is great to have charm and charisma, it is not enough to sell well and have a lot of happy customers coming back for more. You need to have the empathy it takes to listen well and understand the customer enough for them to feel like you really care about their needs. In this way, they will want to build a lasting relationship with you and stay loyal to your business and brand.
Empathy on the Team
Business owners don’t just work alone. There is a lot of team effort within the company as well in terms of working with others who will be giving them the kind of support they need to attract potential client interest, take them through the sales process, seal the deal and deliver the goods.
Pushy business owners and salespeople might close the deal, but no one in the office likes working with them. They can get the client to sign on the dotted line, but the customer will not be happy if they find out they have been lied to, or that they things they really needed from your product and solution were not paid attention to.
Do You Have Enough Empathy?
If you’ve been having trouble closing deals or getting along well with employees, colleagues and clients, it might be time to consider whether or not you could improve your empathy. Here are a few exercises to try:
* Talk less, listen more.
* Focus on the person by looking straight at them.
* Look at their body language, such as posture, facial expression, and so on.
* Evaluate your body language; what kind of messages are you giving whenever you meet people for the first time or speak to prospective clients?
* Try to find common ground right away - it is one of the reasons that when people meet, they start talking about the weather.
* Practice talking to strangers - this can help get you used to tuning into and paying more attention to people.
Empathy is a valuable trait that all business owners, managers and sales staff should develop - not only to become better at their job, but also to become better people.