Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings, thoughts and experiences of another person, and it is a common research topic because of its importance in human interaction. In his popular blog “The Squeaky Wheel,” Dr. Guy Winch observes a tendency among clinical psychologists to over-focus on a relative presence or absence of empathy. Dr. Winch writes that, “what matters is not whether we have empathy, but whether we know how to have empathy.” Hence the key concern of research should be the ability to access feelings of empathy as an effective interpersonal behavior.

In the past decade, empathy has gained acceptance as an important feature of business communication. Marie Miyashiro’s book, The Empathy Factor, brilliantly articulates the value of bringing empathy to the workplace by adopting specific communication strategies. Dr. Winch shares Miyashiro’s belief that kind, respectful presentation of an issue elicits superior employee productivity – especially those on the front line of a business.

I’ve written in the past about “getting” the customer experience, where what I mean by “getting it” is the vivid, emotional account of the customer’s experience with your company. I stress the need for employees to “get it” because empathy is an emotional state as opposed to a cognitive reflection about another person’s experience.

Empathy is a teachable skill. Ideally, we can help your company successfully screen employees for the predisposition for empathetic behavior. However, since empathy is teachable, we can help guide your employees through the customer experience until they reach the ‘aha moment,” moving from a conceptual grasp of empathy to an intuitive, core emotional state of “getting it.”

Colin Shaw, How Empathetic is Your Organization?

Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four best-selling books. Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from offices in Atlanta, Georgia and London, England.

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