Two weeks ago, I was talking with French and American entrepreneurs about how to respond to a new normal.
And one question some participants had was:
How can I engage in a different way with my new customers?
During times of uncertainty, it is true that… we have no certainty!
We don’t know what would be the new problems, the new behaviors, and yes, we can expect some changes in the way our customers will respond to our current services.
In the news, we can hear people giving advice like “the key to success is meeting people where they are, offering a solution to the new problems beginning to arise. People do not have money to spend on old problems. People have new problems that need new solutions.”
I get it.
A new answer to a new normal.
But is it true?
If this is true that we might need new solutions for new problems,
do we need a new way to engage with people?
You engage effectively with people by finding common ground. And the best way to find common ground is by focusing on them first. Focusing on people is the foundation of empathy and of an ability to build social relationships.
Empathy is not new.
Empathy is a realization.
In his book, This is Marketing, Seth Godin reminds us that
People don’t believe what you believe. They don’t know what you know. They don’t want what you want.
Empathy starts when you realize that everyone around you has an internal life as rich as conflicted as yours.
And we can even go deeper by seeing that empathy might reveal three distinct kinds:
Cognitive empathy - the ability to understand another person’s perspective. Why people thought what they did, why they did what they did, what worked for them, what did not work?
Emotional empathy - the ability to feel what someone else feels. I literally feel your pain.
Empathic concern - the ability to sense what another person needs from you. Think about the parents’ attention to their children.
To me, it looks like a nice way to slow down and have a closer look at all the possibilities that we have to focus on our customers, and how we can serve them powerfully.
Emerging as a natural leader
Now, what emerging as a natural leader has to do with empathy?
Well let me ask you this:
Have you noticed that people who can effectively focus on others are easy to recognize?
Take a moment to think about someone who has the ability to effectively focus on others.
Maybe this is your significant other, your colleague, or one of your favorite super-hero.
What do you see in that person that shows natural leadership?
Most of the time, those people are the ones who find common ground, whose opinions carry the most weight and with whom other people want to work. They emerge as natural leaders regardless of organizational or social rank.
Your questions for today
My goal now is to let you with a couple of questions so that you can focus on your customers and emerge as a natural leader:
As a leader, where do I show empathy in my business? With my team? My clients?
As if I had today all the ability to focus on others, how could I stretch myself a little bit more in one of the three directions (cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, or empathic concern)?
What might be one question I’d like to ask one of my clients today that would allow me to create common ground?