I read an article in 2014 suggesting that “empathy” will be the most sought after skill by employers by the year 2020. While the article speaks about careers and employment, the concept is applicable in our everyday life as well. Having said that, people often get empathy and sympathy confused.
Sympathy: “the feeling that you care about and are sorry about someone else’s trouble, grief, misfortune, etc.: a sympathetic feeling.
In the context of sales and customer service we can show empathy when a customer “needs” something done right away to meet a deadline or a certain expectation. For example, many years ago when I lived in British Columbia, I used to take customers to one of my favorite Italian restaurants for lunch. Many times I would have a reservation and sometimes I didn’t, simply because I wasn’t expecting a customer opportunity for a luncheon. When this happened I would make my first restaurant choice the Italian restaurant.
I recall one particular visit when my favorite waiter greeted me at the door with my two guests with me and he asked: “Mr. Mack, do you have reservations?” I replied, no, unfortunately not, but still hope we can get a table.” He looked at me and smiled, and said: “Mr. Mack, that now becomes my problem…..right this way I have a table for you.”
“The opposite of anger is not calmness, i’ts empathy.” -Mehmet Oz