By Emily Faracca – On
The buzzword is everywhere you look - so what it is the big deal about empathy?
"It’s one of the biggest things to which I attribute my success," he wrote. "It’s the reason I believe that I am one of the great salespeople out there."
And in perhaps in the most conspicuous example, Ford Motor Company asked male engineers to wear a simulator that would allow them to experience pregnancy symptoms. The goal was to honor the words of Henry Ford, who famously said that the key to success is to get the other person's point of view. In his mind, fully and truly understanding different points of view would ensure a vehicle that fit the needs of the masses.
So clearly, empathy is believed to play a huge role in successful interactions with others and in overall success.
Here, we'll discuss three main points -
1. What is empathy, really?
2. Why does it matter?
3. How should it actually manifest itself?
What is Empathy?
Given the fact that it's all the rage, empathy must be essential to leading others. But it's not necessarily an easy skill to learn. Empathy has been described as "your pain in my heart." Empathy is recognizing emotions in others, and being able to "put yourself in another person's shoes" – understanding the other person's perspective and reality.
Empathy is different than sympathy in that while sympathy says "I feel for you," empathy says "I feel with you." Tweet this!🐥
Why Is Empathy Important?
As a collector you know better than anyone how much easier a conversation becomes when there is compassion involved.
It's pretty simple - being empathetic in the workplace provides meaningful, concrete returns. There's few of us who would rather to speak to a cold, rude customer service employee (or even worse, a machine) then a warm, friendly voice talking us through our options.
It's not just for the consumer's benefit, though. You may find that an empathetic approach makes your conversations a lot easier. So what are the internal benefits of approaching conversations with empathy?
1. A better understanding of people
2. Noticing things that are unsaid
3. Dealing easily with conflict
4. Invoking empathy in return from consumers
5. Predicting action and reaction
And as you can probably guess, when empathy is lacking, it can lead to a consumer immediately becoming defensive, discourteous and difficult.
So now you might be thinking, how can I be efficient and empathetic? How can I collect on accounts in a firm way, and still be empathetic? How will anyone take me seriously? Here are some tangible ways.
How Should Empathy Manifest Itself?
Here are a few concrete and actionable ways to begin expressing empathy in your every day conversation.
1. Avoid Sympathy
Contrary to what you might think, sympathy can get in the way of a successful conversation. For example, saying "That must be so frustrating for you" will only draw more ire from the consumer. You could expect a response like "Yea, obviously it is!"
To avoid that, try saying "I understand how frustrating that is, but here's what we can do:" Putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer can give you incredible insight into how to problem solve for them.
2. Ask, don't assume - Be curious and actively listen
Confirm every piece of information you've been given, and try to take a genuine interest in the consumer's situation. No one wants to end up in debt. No one does it on purpose. The more information you have the better you can solve the problem.
3. Set the tone and do your best to control it
Whether the consumer you have on the other line is irate, indifferent or worried sick, you be the one to take the reigns of the conversation. Your job is to help the consumer out of debt, and as such, you are an asset to them - even if they don't see it that way. This is not a conversation where they walk all over you, nor is it the time you walk all over them.
Work under the assumption that your conversation will make their day better.
Remember that cultivating empathy takes time and also flows from the top down. If you want to begin cultivating empathy, try reading more fiction or getting feedback about your demeanor from friends and colleagues. If you're an experienced collector, training new collectors can also help you develop empathy. Stay informed about the debt you collect on and the problems those consumers may be facing.
You might be surprised the difference this quality makes in your profit and your every day conversations.