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  • Writer's pictureSuzi Christie

We should be more empathetic

“Self-absorption … kills empathy. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands … [and] problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection.” Daniel Goleman

That quote from the book ‘Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships’, may seem like vaguely hippy nonsense to some and blindingly obvious to others, but there is a universal truth in it.

At this point, you may be thinking: “has Suzi turned into a self-help guru?”


Empathy is an important aspect of all good communications. It separates the mundane from the extraordinary. In many ways I’m reverting to a topic I’ve discussed previously – getting the right personal connection with your customers. See ‘Talk about your customers, not you!’ and ‘Who are you talking to?

Let’s look at that quote again – “when we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large.”

Every business is focused on factors such as sales targets, quality, growth, bottom lines, etc. These are a natural preoccupation for any businessperson, but they are of supreme disinterest to a potential customer.

You might argue: “No! They want quality; they are interested in that.” To some extent this is true, but the reality is if someone has bought your product or service they expect quality. They want you to be preoccupied with ensuring that the right levels of quality are maintained, but they don’t want to hear about it all the time.

Instead, what they do want to hear about is whether a product or service will solve their problem for a price they can afford.

Make sure your communications show empathy

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. If your communications exude empathy, then you will get more attention and, ultimately, better results.

Think about it in terms of your friendship group. All groups of friends have the quieter person who is ready to listen, the louder person who tells a great anecdote, and the people in the middle who do a bit of both. The anecdote teller is great at being the centre of attention but after a while, if you have a problem, they aren’t necessarily the person you would go to. Instead, you might go to the quiet person who has taken it all in, will listen and quietly provide support.

In corporate communications, it’s the same thing. The ability to listen to the needs of your customer and to empathise with them will bring you greater loyalty. As humans, we tend to have stronger, more positive feelings about people or businesses that empathise with us and whom we can readily connect with.

3 steps to showing greater empathy in corporate communications

Obviously, you can’t speak to every potential customer and every customer is different. Therefore, to show empathy in your communications, you need to do these three things:

1) Understand what your customer needs

Find out what they want from your service. What are their pain point in terms of the problem they are trying to solve? If you then focus on this in your communications and not the ‘hard-sell’, it shows you understand their predicament and so they are more likely to trust you to solve it.

2) Understand the challenges your audience faces

This differs from the step above because it isn’t necessarily related to the product or service you supply. A good example might be if you sell car seats for infants and your target audience is mothers. To create that all-important bond with that mother you might not necessarily focus on your seat but on one of the challenges that faces them. For example, they are often time poor and tired. If you focus on ways to help her save time and make life easier, then she will be happy and have a positive impression.

Blogs are a great way to achieve this. Over the years, we’ve helped write blogs covering a range of problems, from keeping homes pest-free to which tree to choose at Christmas. The ultimate intention is to make the reader choose the company we are working for, but the method is to achieve this through empathetic engagement. If we just went for hard-sell, then the reader may switch off immediately. However, while it is still possible that they will just read the advice and not purchase immediately, if they have learned something from the blog then we have made a positive impact that may result in business later on.

3) Make it personal

Despite what I said earlier, anecdotes can be great. If someone wants a service and they can see that you have experienced the same issues, then they will know you understand and can empathise with their problem. If it’s financial, you might talk about budgeting tips that helped you during tough times or, if its to do with pest control, how about the time you had a mouse in your Christmas tree? This did happen to Cleankill Pest Control’s Managing Director Paul Bates (read more).

In addition to blogs, a well-written case study can help you the potential customer relate to your offer. If they see themselves reflected in the content on your website, then they will know you care and can help them to solve it.

Going back to the initial quote; all businesses have their challenges but if you focus only on yours then they become bigger and more difficult to solve. If you look outwards, empathise with potential customers and find ways to engage with them on a personal level, you will not only build loyalty in your business but also those challenges will be put into perspective.

Empathy creates connections that drive business.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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