Most people have a certain amount of sympathy for their fellow man.
Sympathy comes from a place where one person says to another: “I am sorry, I know how you feel”.
And to some degree, they mean it.
The person acknowledges the other person is going through a tough time because they themselves have also been in difficult situations.
Because of their own experiences with struggle, they sympathize with the person who is currently struggling.
The problem with giving sympathy is a two fold problem…
#1. Is it runs out.
People are sympathetic to others, but as soon as they feel they have provided the amount of sympathy they would receive if the rolls were reversed…
They stop giving it.
They think: “enough, I have said enough”.
Problem #2. Sympathy is usually a half-lie
Not because we mean it that way.
It is just that the odds of us feeling exactly how the other person feels is almost impossible.
We may feel similar, but similar and same are worlds apart when comparing emotions.
A long-standing sales tactic is to be the kind of salesperson that is able to connect and sympathize with client frustrations.
The idea is by doing this; the client will feel less isolated because you are their partner.
But salespeople are people too.
And like all humans we run out of sympathy for the same reasons everyone else does.
It is hard to give more than we ourselves have been given in the past.
So unless you actually have experienced the identical situation as a client, do not use sympathy.
Chose to use empathy instead.
Empathy is more honest because it is an admission that you have NOT experienced the same emotions.
Not experienced identically anyway.
Rather, you have worked with people in similar situations, observed their struggle, and cared for them.
This makes the clients struggle about them.
They are concerned for themselves not you, and so bringing your emotions into it makes it less about them.
You have to walk a fine line between connecting out of concern and taking ownership away from them.
The line will sound something like this:
“Mr. Client, It is understandable that you are frustrated. I will be the first to admit I have not experienced the way you feel at this moment. However, I have worked with clients in similar situations and I was able to ultimately get them what they wanted. My goal is to do no less than that for you.”
Or…Speak to the EXACT situation at hand to make more of a personal impact:
“Mr. Client, I am sure you are right to feel the way you do. XYZ is one of the more frustrating experiences I can imagine, but we will get through it (the last part of the sentence said with an obviously optimistic tone). I know because I have worked with clients in similar situations and I was able to ultimately get them what they wanted. My goal is to do no less than that for you.”
Empathy makes a client feel unique and not isolated at the same time.
It also lets you not jump on the emotional train they are on.
It does no good to get swept away with the client which can happen is you force yourself to sympathize.
Empathy lets you be the leader because it is an objective way to connect.
It lets you be human but will not force you to be untruthful while trying to understand a clients frustrations.