Myth: You can’t train empathy

You know, I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me, you can’t train empathy. You have to hire for it. I think that’s a myth. And I’ll tell you why it’s not about training empathy. There are companies out there today who are putting their employees through empathy training, which is as silly as it sounds. What does that mean, it means they’re giving them a set of words and phrases to say to upset customers in order to try and convince that customer that they really do care about the thing that they’re mad about and the issue with that is that if it’s not authentic the customer can smell that from a mile away. So the question then becomes how do you train empathy?

Empathy Training

It’s not really about training empathy, and I’ll tell you why. There are real-life examples of empathy that I like if you’ve ever flown on an airplane and you watch the safety video. There’s a part of the safety video where they say in the event of the loss of cabin pressure oxygen masks will deploy from the ceiling and they advise you to put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help passengers around you. For me, this is a lot like empathy training in that it’s going to be very difficult for me to empathize with someone else and their pain if I’m not approaching it from a healthy place. Or in other words, if the pain that I’m dealing with in my own life is so great that it’s blinding me to their situation and the struggles they’re experiencing then empathy is not going to be a part of that conversation so we put an intense focus on helping our people to overcome those more immediate challenges to work through the pain they’re dealing with in their own lives so that they can approach a customer-service situation from a healthy place and in a way that they truly can feel what that person is going through.

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