Empathy High on Empathy You often wear other people’s shoes. Empathy is one's ability to recognize, perceive and directly, experientially feel the emotion of another. Because emotions are intertwined with the states of mind, beliefs and desires, being able to empathize is indicates that you are effective in divining another’s mode of thought and mood. Because you scored high in this area it is likely that you are able to impersonate others fairly well. You are able to recognize the emotions of another, innately being able to associate the bodily movements and facial expressions of others with their feelings. In other words you can “read people” rather well. This ability helps you navigate the complexities of relationships in and out of the office. As a sales-person, being empathic gives you an edge in deeply understanding the needs of your clients. If you’re really good at this, you’re able to recognize the client’s needs even before they tell you what they are. It is likely that your friends and family may have even said “you’re psychic” a few times in your life. Since emotions transcend culture, the ability to read emotional responses makes it much easier to navigate the do’s and don’ts during cross-cultural interactions. (more here) This survey may have reinforced notions of yourself you already have. There are a few things you can do to refine your empathic ability and utilize it more as tool for you and your client’s benefit. Become an expert on body language – take an improvisational theater acting class – read up on emotional intelligence – engage store clerks, offer an insight into how they may be feeling about their work, i.e. “looks like you’re ready to go home.” These little exercises push you to observe others and remark Medium on Empathy You’re not a fortune teller, but you’re not clueless in the people department either. Falling in the medium range in this category shows that you are able to relate and work with others, but it is not likely that figuring out what others want or need comes easily to you. Mis-communications and possibly minor conflicts are evident in a handful of your work and personal relationships. When performing needs assessments for your clients you are likely overly reliant on a script or template of discovery questions. With empathy being at a medium level for you, it is likely that you are not overly moved by tragic or romantic movies. Such movies are likely interesting but mildly annoying to sit through because it feels to you that the heavy emotional exchanges detract from the story. In recognizing pain or joy in others you are appropriately responsive, but not intensely drawn to connect, commiserate or congratulate the other. It is possible that your friends and family have commented to you that you were kind of mean and disingenuous in exchanges with others, but you did not think you were. It even surprised you that he or she had an entirely different perception of the exchange than you. To focus on developing your empathic ability, we suggest a few exercises. First, try watching a romantic movie, taking notes on what you believe the actors are feeling in key scenes. Try to describe the feelings in as much detail and nuance as you can. Share the observations with someone you know who is very keen on emotions and relationships. Ask him or her to watch the same movie and record their observations of the same scenes. Compare your notes and see what emotions you missed or under estimated as important to the story. This exercise increases your ability in reading people and the import of their emotions on their behaviors. The second exercise entails watching people with a good friend or colleague. In a public place, sit with a friend, colleague or family member who you are comfortable sharing personal insights with. As you both watch people go by, try to read their emotions, their overall contenance and make up a story about them. Don’t be mean, be realistic. Try to descibe where they may be going, what they had for breakfast, how they are feeling and what drives them or what their life goals may be. Encourage your friend to add to the story. Go back and forth to see how you take each other’s observatons and weave a story about a stranger’s life. As you craft the stranger’s life story with your friend you will likely have agreements and disagreements, which will proivide you with instant feedback on your observations of others. Low on Empathy Having a low score on empathy does NOT mean your cold and calous, it does mean that you have difficulty in conveying to others that you have heard and understand them. Your conversations tend to be focused on the nouns or technical stuff. Friends may have often said to you to “lighten up”. Or they have even been surprised when you do not laugh at a simple joke. You may be able to read others emotions, but it is difficult for you to understand the impact of their emotions and as a result it is challenging for you to fully understand the others meaning and intent in the conversation. As you can see understanding the needs of a client from a different culture is more challenging for you. Due to language and cultural differences, the sales process relies more on the ability to read the other person’s emotions and as a result their intent. If you are able to convey a strong understanding, which empathy helps you do, you are likely to move beyond the technical and see the underlying business needs and overall intent of your client. Making it easier to tailor the product or service you are selling to meet their needs. To improve you empathic ability you can do several things. First, try watching movies and observing all of the emotion in the actors. Write down key scenes and what you believe the character was going through and why. This exercise will connect what you observe on the screen to behavior and to your interpretation of the emotion. The second exercise is designed to give you internal visual and emotional clues as to what each emotion looks and feels like. Sit quietly somewhere and say to yourselt the name of one emotion. For example, say “surprised” over and over. Concentrating on what surprised looks like on someone’s face, what it feels like and how your body would respond when surprised. Focus completely on the word surprised. Try not to let your mind wander to far. Keep repeating the word. Let the feeling of being surprised take over. This exercise pushes you to identify the feeling, the look of someone experiencing the emotion and the resulting behavior of the emotion. Choose any word you wish; happy, sad, peaceful, content, angry, overwhelmed, excited, nervou or any emotion you wish. However, do be careful with concentrating on emotions that cause anxiety and fear. By improving your empathic ability you will be able to connect with others in more meaningful and mutually beneficial ways. This is the goal of sales. Each party has something that benefits the other; the product benefits the buyer and money benefits the seller. To be fully informed about the product and the payment both parties have to understand each other. The more understanding you have of the other’s goals and intentions the more likely you are to freely exchange goods and servcies.
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