The Empathy Advantage

A couple of months back an older lady came into my workplace and upon assisting her, she asked if I would be willing to teach her how to use the computer. She said that she would be happy to pay me and she had asked so nicely, I couldn’t say no.

The first lesson didn’t go very well. I had no idea what I was doing, I’ve never genuinely had to sit down with someone and explain something so complex. Of course, to me, computer use is simple. I tried explaining what different things were and what their purpose was but I was using language that I understood, not necessarily language that she- a complete beginner- would understand.

I had to think back to when I was a kid in computer class learning how to use a computer. I thought back to the difficulties I had, the challenges I faced, and the method used to teach me. By reflecting on this, I was able to come up with a more effective strategy. The following week, I created a vocabulary list of input and output devices associated with a computer and other vocabulary associated with this. The lesson went significantly smoother and she even seemed excited about the next lesson.

Empathy gave me the insight to properly and effectively explain the information to this lady. Had I not utilized it she probably would have given up on trying to learn it. It was through this experience that I was reminded just how useful empathy can be.

To have the ability to put yourself in someone else’s place, understand how they would interact with something or a situation can give you an incredible advantage in several kinds of work. The most successful businesses didn’t get to where they are today by making things that appealed to them, they produced that in which would help others.

They advertised their products in a fashion that drove up sales because they knew what other people wanted to see. Or when they were on the sales floor, they knew exactly what to say and how to say it to allow a person to come to the conclusion that this was something they needed.

The difference between success and failure in business is the empathy advantage.


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