Empathy stems from understanding – knowing what others are going through, their pains, and their thoughts. Empathy is more than just reacting to their situation; it is seeing yourself in those similar situations.
As consultants, our goal is to help our clients achieve their objectives, either by solving their problems or by giving them the tools to succeed. Empathy drives us to discover answers to our client’s problems. Empathy is a potent combination when paired with this solution-seeking mindset. Empathy is unquestionably important for successful client relationships.
We are all prejudiced in some way. As a result, actively exercising empathy helps us in putting our point of view aside. It’s human nature to presume that others think and react in the same way we do. It’s common to project one’s behaviors, preferences, and dislikes onto others. When I communicate with clients, I prioritize their needs, motivations, and pain points by asking contextual questions.
When someone uses your service, they enter into a reciprocal relationship. They invest their limited attention and expect value in return. Effective communication is the only way they could get this value. Some of these tactics help me better understand my clients, and they could help you as well: Communicate in a succinct, clear, and consistent manner. Be conscious of your prejudices, Pay attention to the words your client uses, and Ask open-ended questions.
Human nature makes us believe that our clients share the same views we do and want the services we offer, but this isn’t always the case. Empathy not based on facts may lead you astray when it comes to sharing information, reports, and analyses.
Think of it like this. You went to a salon and asked for a haircut. The stylist cut your hair short, while you were trying to explain that it needs to be longer. When you objected, the stylist boasted about his decades of experience and said, “Since you came in here, I know exactly what style you want.” Frustrated, you walked out and never returned.
I’ve been in the consulting business for a while now and I have learned that it is important to give your client a listening ear when providing them with a solution or expert advice. It’s not always easy, but it pays off in the long run.