Running behind today? Feeling like you will never get on top of that to-do list? Always playing catch up? I know exactly how you feel. I wish there were a few more hours in each day, or maybe even another day added to the week. These opening sentences are an example of putting empathy to work for you in your communication; an example of attempting to find common ground with your reader/client in an attempt to personalize your communication and help them realize that you are human too. Empathy is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.” Feelings of empathy allow our clients to get more comfortable with us on a personal level. In business, and especially in the outcroppings of the real estate industry, clients are often introduced to new and unknown individuals, and must immediately begin performing a business transaction with these “strangers.”
In the home inspection industry, for example, a home buyer typically meets the inspector for the first time at their prospective new home, and almost immediately enters into a business transaction with them. They must immediately accept the inspector as a competent authority figure, quickly develop a relationship with them, and almost immediately pay them money for their services. Many business transactions follow this trajectory. And while this may be a painless process if you are buying a sandwich from someone behind a counter, the addition of larger sums of money (as happens in the many individual transactions involved in buying a home) makes this a more important, and possibly a more contentious, transaction.
Quickly developing an empathetic relationship with your clients is a relatively painless way to help everything work more smoothly in your business relationship. We have all met people that possess the ability to make anyone they meet immediately feel at ease in their presence. We quickly feel relaxed and trusting in the presence of this person who, up until a few minutes ago, was a complete stranger. Some people have an inborn ability to exude empathy: we easily feel a connection to and a comfort with them. The rest of us have to work harder to develop this type of relationship with others, especially with our clients.
I could certainly write a whole book, and many have been written, on this subject. However, for our purpose here, I will attempt to distill it down to a few important facts. The easiest way to explain this process is to simply be human; be a kind and caring individual instead of simply a robotic salesman. It is easy to get caught up in the familiar routine of your job, concentrating on covering all of your responsibilities and providing your client with the product that they deserve. But, by occasionally breaking out of “business person mode” and speaking with them as a person who is genuinely interested in them, their feelings and their concerns, you can develop empathy and a level of trust that will help to grease the wheels of your business transaction. By being human, and acknowledging that you understand the situation that your clients are going through, you become a person to your clients, and not just somebody trying to take their money!
“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt