Image by: darkday
By Mike Ventura
By now you probably have had a few experiences in the business world that you would rather forget. Whether it was a shady business partner, a horrendous boss, obnoxious co workers, lazy employees, or rude customers I know the list for undesirables is a long one. But in all the letdown and humiliation were you able to salvage something from those experiences?
There is never an obvious reason at the time of something bad happening that we can readily accept. Rather it is always in hindsight do we reflect and learn from them. That is why these following concepts are so important. They are the pillars upon which all interactions should focus on in order for you to achieve any level of success. After all in order to get to that point you have to know a little about how to handle people and the myriad personalities that exist out in the world.
For me empathy has always been a very important concept because it immediately allows you access to a person the minute you meet them. Even if they take a while to open up, you can make that first connection with a person based on your ability to understand their position. Even if it is a low man on the totem pole, just listening to his rant for two minutes and putting yourself in his shoes will give you the power to put out fires before they spread into bigger flames. People inherently need to feel like they are listened to every once in a while. It is all part of the motivating process.
Think about it. If you were ever in a position where no one would listen to your input and never cared enough to understand your complaints, how long would you want to stay there? Simply by letting the other person know you understand their problems by identifying with them and their situation will lead to more receptive workers and quicker resolutions to problems.
#2) Listening is a Virtue
They say patience is a virtue. It is , but so is listening. It is part of the empathy process and is really a principal in itself though. If you want to be good at empathizing you have to know how to listen. And just pretend, you have to pay attention to what people are telling you and why. They difficult part is knowing how to sort through all the information they are throwing at you and identify the only really important stuff. That doesn’t mean that personal things should be discredited. You see that is the tricky part.
To prove to people that you really listen to them you have to practice the parrot technique. This is where after every few sentences or blocks of thoughts people spout your way, you offer up a quick summary of what they just said in one solid thought. They will see you have been paying attention and a little unconscious green light will turn on in their heads, thus allowing you access to that relationship building material I mentioned earlier.
#3) Remember, Remember, Remember
Just as listening is part of being empathetic, remembering is part of listening. You see how this all works itself nicely into a neat little package? The thing you have to remember about remembering is not only the obvious benefits of it, but the timing as well. For instance, how do you feel when a clerk at a place you frequent remembers your name and calls you by it? Or how about a server at a restaurant who is a complete stranger at the start of your meal, and by the end is giving you advice about your dead beat brother in law? It’s pretty sweet the way Amazon and every other website or service you use remembers key things about you as well right? See what I mean about the many nuances of remembering?
When you are able to access the right little bits of information about a person, such as something they mentioned to you about themselves, a family member, even their pets it makes them not only feel good for several psychological reasons, but it encourages them to trust in their relationship with you. After all, you were really listening to them, and that is something most of us rarely get the luxury of. People will quickly notice that you not only listen, but take the time to remember what they said and reference it for their benefit. This is powerful stuff.
#4) Identifying with Others
Another aspect tied to empathy is identification. If empathy is the ability to see from someone else’s perspective, then identification would be the ability to find common ground based on your findings. If I’m listening to a customer tell me how mad they are about my product or service and they mention something that I can use to leverage their anger, I’ve just learned the first step in keeping the peace. I have noticed that often times in cases like this where the other person is very mad, it is due to a very small problem that simply went unheard or un-cared about. It takes effort to care, even a little bit, and so that is why by the time you get to someone they may be directing all their anger on you.
In establishing something you both identify with, usually frustration over problems you have both experienced in the past, you can begin to work on your relationship with that person. Now you look like the hero because you took the time to understand their problem and even shared with them some little slice of life that only the two of you have now. What this does is further build your status as a trustworthy individual who listens, understands, remembers, and cares about people. All ingredients towards creating lasting connections with all the colorful people you will meet on your journey through life.
Do you have any other important aspects of relationship building to add? I know this is just a window into such a world so I would love to hear about what you have discovered about people in your own journey. Please share your experiences and stories with us all and maybe you will learn something new yourself!