The Beauty of Empathy

by Al Smith

 guest blog post by Bob Burg 

 

The Beauty of Empathy

Not only is empathy a vitally important part of the selling process; it is also a vitally important part of the human process. This is true whether trying to understand why someone is resistant to our viewpoint or if we are simply attempting to help them through an issue or difficult time.

I believe that in any relationship — business or personal — empathy is a key differentiator between the successful and the unsuccessful. Those who have the talent and skill; both at having empathy and being able to communicate empathy are at a huge advantage over those who don’t.

Dictionary.com defines Empathy as “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” Being a simple fellow, I just say it is really nothing more than — as the saying goes — putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.

If we have similarities in experience, we might actually be able to really identify; to know what and/or how they are feeling.

But, what if that is not the case? Let’s face it; there are times when not only do we not know exactly how they feel…we have absolutely no idea how they feel!

Yet, we can still be empathetic. You see, empathy doesn’t necessarily mean you actually feel what the other person feels. The truth is, you might not. It does mean you communicate that you understand they are feeling … something.

When someone with true empathy listens…the other person feels truly heard. And feeling heard is what often makes the difference.

In a Facebook discussion, I suggested that I even think we can feel (or at least identify with) a similar emotion even if we don’t know exactly what/how they are feeling, and that’s what communicates to them that we care. In response, Pastor Tom Sims wrote, “there is always something inside of us, some memory of personal pain or struggle that unites us in a common humanity and enables us to relate in compassion.”  WOW!

And, if that wasn’t an exquisite enough thought, Pamela McBride followed that up by saying,  “Compassion is only a heart beat away when we tap into our own struggles.”

Indeed!

 This was previously released on Bob’s blog.

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Burg is coauthor (with John David Mann) of “The Go-Giver” and “It’s Not About You”. Go to www.Burg.com for more information and to download free chapters of his books.

 

 

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Young November 22, 2011 at 8:57 am

Fantastic! It’s difficult to connect with humanity when we don’t experience empathy. I know a couple of people who really struggle with empathetic issues – either because they feel everyone else’s hurts too deeply, or because the don’t feel anything at all.

Both of them have difficulty making lasting friendships, because they have a hard time with the balance between being yourself and putting yourself in another’s shoes.
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Al Smith November 22, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Thank you Bob. Really appreciate your contribution and allowing me to put this great post up on the site. Like you said, “Putting yourself in the other persons shoes” is a great defintion of empathy. If we could just slow down, pause and think about the situation, actually take the advice of those great words, we would look at the situation differently. And maybe, we might just have some empathy for the other person.

Thanks again Bob. This is a keeper. Love it.

Al

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Claudia November 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Hello Bob…thank you for a wonderful post. Empathy is such an important feeling…one that we can all stand to “fine tune” a bit. The great thing about empathy is that it is almost like a gift to someone…it says that I understand and that I care. Empathy often gets confused with sympathy which is feeling sorrow for someone’s situation. Sympathy is the surface feeling…empathy is the inside feeling…And, even if we do not experience the exact same circumstance that another person is experiencing, by, as you say, putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes and reaching deep within ourselves to find a relatable experience, we can give the other person a gift of sincere understanding, compassion and care.
Thank you,Bob for a wonderful reminder of the importance of being empathetic.
And, Al Smith…you rock!!
Claudia
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