Note: Although the fundamentals of this post are always true, the fundamentals of being an empathetic listener, and not always solving the problem, will be enormously important this week. Many of your customers will be emotionally happy/upset/nervous before during and after the election. This week, remind yourself that it might not be about the nail.
Empathy is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” An important way to grow our relationships is by being empathetic with others, particularly in sales.
Being empathetic can start with asking someone how they’re doing and then listening…just listening. Although the problem and solution may be obvious to you, first be the person to listen, hear what they have to say, to ultimately understand. The video It’s Not About the Nail shows the importance of arriving to a conversation with empathy and listening to understand, without the goal of a changing the person’s mind or suggesting a solution. Let them tell you about the nail on their head and empathize with them. You will learn their perspective and develop a deeper understanding of them, which will be a great asset for you as you continue to build your relationship with this person.
How does empathy help us reach our goals? In the book the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey identifies the fifth habit as: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. This quote describes how and why empathy and winning go hand in hand when you are building relationships. When you listen and understand your customer without focusing on your perspective of the nail, your audience will know you understand them. It is much more likely they will be receptive to your concept or solution when you are explaining it to them. At some point, we are going try to explain the value of our solutions, and if our customers and future customers know we understand their situation/pain, both personally and professionally, our ability to help them realize the value in our solutions dramatically increases.
Remember, it’s not about the nail…especially on election week!