Dealing with different individuals is an integrated part of life. You get to encounter the same faces each day, and you also bump into new acquaintances. It just seems to be easy relating to those you have shared a few encounters already more than the people whom you simply met once or twice. In a job that requires you to empathize with customers, the task can be a challenging one given the fact that these are people you barely even know and yet you are asked to put yourself in their shoes.
What is empathy?
Why is there a need to demonstrate it to the individuals you deal with?
When is it best to empathize?
What do you get out of doing it?
Empathy is an ability that you need to learn and acquire especially if you plan on improving your people skills. This skill requires a deeper level of understanding people because it entails the feelings of the person involved.
Understanding the Skill of Empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand what the other person feels from within the person’s frame of reference. You put yourself in the situation of the other person and subjectively understand their current state of emotions.
A complete display of empathy involves these essential elements:
- Awareness and making a conscious effort to place oneself in the situation of another
- Awareness and understanding of the present condition you are in
- Recognizing presence of strong emotions
- Stating your perception of what the other person is feeling
Displaying empathy towards other people minimizes the natural human weakness of being judgmental to those whom you treat differently. When empathizing, focus on the thoughts and feelings of the other individual and set aside your own personal judgments. Then, reflect back in a way that would make the person feel that there was understanding and appreciation of feelings on your part, that you also show how it is when you are on the person’s shoes.
Levels of Empathy
Demonstrating empathy can vary depending on how you perceive the situation and how deeply you understand what the other is going through. The most ideal kind of empathy is the sincere or genuine one, having the most honest reflection of feelings towards another person. Yet, empathy can also be faked especially if the person who is going through an experience is in no way related to you. The level of empathy you manifest can be seen from the way the other person responds or reacts.
Level 1: Failed Empathy or “Empty Empathy”
This level also means showing no empathy at all for another by not feeling for the person. You may be verbally giving an empathetic statement, but there is no reflection of feelings involved. The person does not agree with your response and withdraws interest to open up to you.
Level 2: Accurate Reflection of Feelings
Level 2 is the ideal kind of empathy to demonstrate to others. You are aptly reflecting correctly on the thoughts and feelings of another and you would acknowledge it by an affirmation coming from the other person through verbal or nonverbal response.
Level 3: “Tuned-In” Empathy
This level of empathy paves the way for the other person to realize new thoughts or feelings. There is a sudden awareness and insight of the situation that was never seen before.
Key Results of Empathy
So, what happens if you empathize? It sure does not make you a hero, but there are many advantageous results out of giving a sincere empathy to other people. For one, you will gain the trust and cooperation of the person. Your interaction with the emotional person becomes smoother. Rapport is easily established, so that makes it easy for you to get the person’s attention.
In business especially in a customer service oriented organization, the skill of empathy is an essential tool for customer service representatives. Facing customer complaints is no easy task, but with a display of genuine empathy, the customers are more willing to work and cooperate to get the problem resolved.
Empathy is indeed a fundamental skill in the process of building strong people skills in both personal and professional aspects.