“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems”, noted Stephen Covey. Let’s face it: In business, we regularly need to convince people to embrace a new idea, to share our vision of a better future, to buy a new product, or take any other meaningful course of action. To convince people of a new idea, better communicate with empathy. Relate to their ways and show sympathy to their desires, wants, and needs. But how can you do this? How can you find out what makes them tick? Today, let’s discuss how you can communicate with greater empathy with the help of TIPS, Thinkergy’s cognitive profiling test for business and innovation.
What does it mean to communicate and convince empathetically?
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. On the other hand, communication means the imparting or exchange of information or news; the term can also be defined as the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings. Finally, to convince means to persuade someone to do something .
Taken all together, we can say that when we communicate empathetically, we successfully convey information and share ideas and feelings with another person while being able to relate to and understand their feelings, wants, and needs. We want to communicate with greater empathy to persuade people to do something we believe is good for them.
Why should you communicate more empathetically?
“Empathy is one of our greatest tools of business that is most underused”, noted the Mexican-American billionaire businessmen Daniel Lubetzky. When we empathize while communicating with other people, we pay respect to their world views and their preferred styles to think, work, interact, and live. We sympathize with their points of view. We talk the same language as them. We relate to their wants, desires and needs. We feel their challenges and pains. We put ourselves in their shoes and walk a mile in these to experience the world as they do. Showing empathy makes us aware that for most situations in business and life, there is more than just one truth. In short, sympathizing with others and communicating with greater empathy makes it easier to create win-win solutions.
How to plan and structure a more empathetic communication
Widely popular in marketing, advertising, and sales, the AIDA model (attention, interest, desire, action) can help us to think about the different phases of empathetic communication:
- Approach and attention: How to best approach people with a particular personality? How to best reach out and connect with them? How to get their attention?
- Interest: How to open them up? How to engage them and get them interested in a topic?
- Desire: How to make them gain a favorable disposition towards an idea? How to find a shared point of view that aligns both interests? What triggers can alleviate their pain or inspire their desire?
- Action: How to convince them and make them agree to a mutually beneficial course of action?
It is important to point out that communicating with empathy and respect isn’t the same as manipulating people. When we interact empathetically, we look for ways to convince others to take a beneficial course of action that is good for them and us (win-win). In contrast, when someone communicates with the intent to manipulate, that person typically wants to influence others to take a particular action that solely or predominantly benefits themselves (win-lose).
How TIPS can help you to communicate with greater empathy
In an ideal world, we would know the personality types or the TIPS innovator profiles of all our colleagues and important customers. Thus equipped with greater people- and team awareness of the world views and preferred cognitive styles our teammates and clients, it would be easier to empathize with them. Unfortunately, in the real world, getting everyone profiled may probably not be feasible.
Fortunately, we can fall back on an approximation with the help of the TIPS bases (Theories, Ideas, People, and Systems). The TIPS bases represent four base orientations or “social attractor fields” that energize people’s beliefs and behaviors:
- The Theories base attracts logical, scientific people who care about knowledge, evidence, reason, and the truth.
- In contrast, those energetic, highly individualized people who care about innovation, progress, and change populate the Ideas base.
- The interpersonal and social people at the People base are all about relationships, emotional intelligence, and care.
- Finally, the Systems base is home to those orderly, formal people who value traditions and the established status quo as well as well-structured, efficient processes.
In an earlier article titled Understanding the cycles of change using TIPS (Part 1 and 2), I discuss the TIPS bases in greater detail and explain how these can help understanding how technological and social changes unfold in a society over time. Another article named How to better deal with conflicts at work also explains the conflict potential between the different bases.
How to communicate more empathetically with people from different TIPS bases
While you may not be able to guess someone’s TIPS profile right away, you probably have a rough idea about which TIPS base orientation a particular colleague or client of yours is attracted to. Your intuition about a person’s likely TIPS base may serve as a gauge to direct your communication approach. You may gain further hints if you listen for certain keywords that people of the different TIPS base tend to use frequently. (I discussed this in an earlier article titled What “keywords” reveal about people’s personality).
So how can we communicate with greater empathy with the people from each TIPS base?
How to communicate more empathetically with “T-People” at the Theories-base?
Approach & attention: Most people you find at the Theories-base (“T-People”) tend to be more private. If you want to initially make contact with them, then best do it in writing via email or more sophisticated social media such as LinkedIn. Before you compose your message, find out more about what’s their expertise. Then, ask a few precise questions to get them talking (such as “What research project do you currently work on?” or “What book are you reading at the moment?”). If you want to meet them in person, be respectful and courteous, and avoid “invading their space”. Ask for permission first before entering their office (e.g., “Excuse me, may I have a moment of your time?”).
Interest: Prepare and research data and information in advance before talking with T-People. Let them take their time to get interested in talking to you. Tell them that you’re interested in their expertise, and give them a plausible reason why. Invite them to share their knowledge with you. Be a good listener, and ask precise questions to let them share their opinions.
Desire: To make T-People gain a favorable disposition towards an idea, get them to talk about the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of it. Then, ask them for their ideas on how to mitigate or resolve the cons that every idea has. Finally, line up a logical chain of arguments that leads to a definite conclusion supporting your line of thought that the idea is truly worthy.
Action: Prepare and show hard logical evidence that highlights the value potential and feasibility of your idea. Alternatively, convince T-People with ‘demonstration’ (e.g., by showing a prototype). Convince T-People to agree to a suggested, beneficial course of action by showing that the evidence-supported idea both supports their favored theoretical perspectives and will work in practice.
“Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives,” said Oprah Winfrey. Come back to this column in two weeks, when I share with you how we can similarly communicate with greater empathy with the people at the Ideas-, People- and Systems-bases.
- Do you want to learn more about TIPS? Check out our TIPS website and our brand new TIPS brochure.
- Are you curious about what’s your TIPS profile? Buy your TIPS online profiling test coupon for USD 89 now.
- Would you like to find out more about our TIPS training for your team? Contact us to tell us more.
© Dr. Detlef Reis 2019