It is quiet possible to show a willingness to remove your mask, or to be an excellent listener, but still take a self centred and utilitarian approach to conversation by putting your personal interests before anybody else. You might view communication as a way of getting what you want, meeting your own emotional needs, or controlling and manipulating people. That is why highly emphatic people bring an attitude of concern for the other into their conversations, and strive to focus on the other persons interests and well being, not just their own.
The importance of this trait becomes clear in the debate over so called ‘ Empathy Marketing’ during the past decade, empathy has become a popular concept in the advertising and marketing industries, where it tends to be seen in purely instrumental terms. In its corporate best seller persuasion: the art of influencing people, James Borg describes empathising – especially the art of accurately reading people’s emotions in face to face conversations – as a key sales skill to give you a competitive edge that can really set you apart and help you get what you want . When you look at the behaviours and mindsets of the most successful people around, writes Borg, it is apparent that they have a great understanding of the role of empathy. Numerous marketing websites offer tips on how to use empathic communication strategies to lure in customers, such as asking people about their families to help make a personal connection, ensuring that you look people in the eye when talking to them, and becoming observant of their body language and tone of voice as a way tuning into their state of mind. One marketing consultant observes, ‘obvious though empathic communication techniques may be, my clients routinely neglect to use them ….. and leave billions of dollars on the table as a result.’
There are now firms specialising in empathy marketing, training tele sales workers to make people feel as if they are really being listened to.
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