Affective Empathy and Why Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know It

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Let’s face it, as Strategic Entrepreneurs – we’re competitive, results-driven, and on occasion, a bit brash. I don’t think these are inherently bad qualities… but sometimes the less tactful folks in our role can give the rest of us a bad name. We don’t always practice enough empathy.

This idea of a raw, research-focused marketer can often create a gap between the idea I’ve been preaching all along… that customers do business with people they know, like, and trust.

While being competitive and analytical don’t hurt your chances of being known and trusted, there’s one critical point they’re missing…

And it’s something you can’t put a measurement on:

Real relationships.

I’m not just talking about relationships that exist on the surface – I’m talking about truly connecting with customers to solve their problems because you care.

C’mon. I can hear you rolling your eyes, but hear me out for a second…

Here’s why this is important:

“Real” relationships are founded from a sense of empathy… an emotional depth that, unfortunately, many marketers don’t let themselves get to.

It’s one thing to hear someone’s problem
and say you understand… but do you really?

Are you a chiropractor who’s put himself in the shoes of the patient who’s losing sleep because they have lower back pain, or just telling them you “get” them on a logical level?

Are you a financial consultant who really understands what it feels like to have knots in your stomach because your missing yet another one of your kids’ soccer games – just to keep your head above water and food on the table?

Most entrepreneurs spend more time working on their business than they do with their wives and children – now if you’re targeting entrepreneurs, you really have to know what impact this has on their lives from an emotional viewpoint.

Think about it: have you spent enough time really trying to understand the pain your clients, customers, and patients are going through on an internal level – or are you just offering lip service?

A great article from Fast Company’s Co.Create blog discusses the differences between affective empathy and cognitive empathy:

  • Cognitive empathy is the ability to logically think about and recognize someone’s difficulties
  • Affective empathy is the emotional ability to actually feel the pain of someone else’s struggles

Marketers are great at cognitive empathy – we’re always on the lookout for what solutions people might need, signs that they might be distressed, what triggers go into buying decisions, etc., etc…

Sure, that’s important.

But the difference between marketers who practice cognitive empathy and the few who integrate affective empathy is the difference between a high school athlete and a world-class athlete.

If we want to build real bonds with people, not just temporary connections based on dollars and the exchanging of goods, we have to change the way we do business to reflect truly caring about the struggles of the people who need our help…

And this works for the bottom line too – forming real, genuine connections will inspire repeat business (this is that “know, like, and trust” at work).

Other people’s problems aren’t
something you can reason through…

You have to feel what they’re feeling to really provide the best advantage and solution… it’s about solving the causes of problems, not just patching symptoms.

If you don’t have a sense of compassion, if you aren’t practicing altruism through affective empathy, you’ll be lumped into that category of marginal marketers only caring about their own dividends, and not about the people they’re supposed to be helping…

Focus on forging real connections with the people you do business with – for their own inherent value and the good you can do – and the profits will come by themselves.

In your corner,

Charlie

what now?

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