The Oxford dictionary defines ’empathy’ as; the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own. ” – Henry Ford
Along with gratitude, empathy is one of the most important people skills to master. We all want similar things from life and the simplest way to discover how someone else is thinking is to ask ourselves how we would think in a similar situation.
Empathy diffuses anger and frustration in people because most of us just want to be understood. American writer and lecturer, Dale Carnegie believed that we should never disagree with anyone because ‘people like people who are like they are’.
However, Dale stated that if we ever found ourselves in a situation where we felt so strongly about an issue that we simply couldn’t agree with someone then we should disagree with them as diplomaticaaly as possible.
“When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you.” – Susan Sarandon
Under no cicumstances should we merely use the phrase “Yes but” when voicing an alternative oppinion. Instead we should endeavour to ‘stretch’ the “Yes but” by saying something like; “I understand what you are saying but..”
By doing this we convey to the other person that although we disagree with them we understand their point of view and psychologically this is a very powerful negotiating technique.
The Oxford Dictionary definition of empathy mentions the ‘feelings’ of other people. This is important because if we can actually empathise with a person’s feelings as well as their oppinions the overall effect of the sentiment is magnified and the chances of the negotiation coming to a successful conclusion are greatly increased.
As an aside I have actually read Dale’s most famous book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ about 15 times and each time I read it I learn something new.
There are many benefits to aquiring the quality of empathy, people will start to see us in a different light and we will become known as a person who understands and cares for others’ feelings.
Wether we work in sales or not we are all selling ourselves and our ideas on a daily basis. Empathy undoubtedly increases sales because people buy from people they like and trust and moreover they will tell their friends that we are the person to go to for XYZ product or service.
As well as improving our business results empathy will greatly improve our social and family lives. People will always be drawn to someone who is prepared to listen to them. The greatest conversationalists speak the least, they simply ask the best questions and then let others do all the talking.
The native Americans had a saying that you should never judge a man until you had walked a mile in his shoes, and this holds true today. In this era of hyper communication sentiments such as empathy and gratitude are our most important tools.
“The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.” – Meryl Streep