“You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.” – John Steinbeck
I’m often asked what is the key to great customer service. The answer is simple. It’s putting yourself in their shoes. It’s fundamentally understanding what their problem is. A huge part of being empathetic is listening. Not just nodding your head, and paraphrasing what they say, but actually listening and making eye contact. So many people don’t make eye contact. Eye contact creates trust and connection.
According to Merriam-Webster, Empathy is the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this.
This is not to say that Empathy is based on imagination or clairvoyance. Although that may help. To be empathetic is so much easier if you have a repertoire of different experiences with different people. It helps to travel and to know different languages. It is of great importance to be inclusive with people, and to share their point of views even if you disagree with them, and to understand where they’re coming from. It is important to be open-minded. It is helpful to think outside the box. It is crucial not to exclude people based on their sex, sexuality, age, race, mentality, and social class.
At the end of the day, we’re all human. We all have the same main feelings of fear, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, surprise, trust, anticipation, acceptance, expectation, courage, shame, confidence, kindness, cruelty, pity, indignation, love, envy, etc. What triggers these emotions, are the situations that we are in. Human nature is not as complicated as people make it sound like, and we are not as different from each other as some claim. We all want to be safe, loved, healthy, and happy.