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Why empathy is key to business success

15 Aug 2015
By Jonny

In a business context, empathy is crucial. Even with the financial and performance metrics that govern the business world, to be truly effective, empathy is hugely important.

In agency side online marketing, not just knowing, but fully comprehending the business goals and concerns of a client is so pivotal that to overlook it would be fatal.

Empathy vs sympathy

An all too common mistake when discussing empathy is that it is misconstrued as sympathy. In truth, appreciating the difference between these two terms is hugely important. It is this difference that makes empathy such a potent asset.

Simply put, sympathy is to “share a feeling” whereas empathy is to “understand a feeling”. A sympathizer connects emotionally with a subject, but fails to explore the subject’s situation objectively. This is because, through the adoption of the subject’s emotions, a sympathiser’s reality becomes cloudy and distorted by emotion.

A true empathiser, in contrast, removes themselves entirely from the equation, allowing reality to take on a lucid clarity that allows for creativity and innovation and for relationships to flourish. To use a tired metaphor, empathy is the ability to step completely out of your own shoes and step into someone else’s, seeing and experiencing everything that person does. The result is the cultivation of wisdom and the broadening of understanding.

Empathy and innovation

Every situation is said to have at least three sides. Unless you’re a remarkably adept natural empathiser, as a human you’ll naturally and somewhat selfishly see predominantly our own side. It is empathy that allows us to view and learn from the remaining two.

In a business context, this becomes not only clearer, but also more valuable. A team of people who are capable of appreciating a greater number of perspectives surrounding a topic are more likely to identify areas for innovation and improvement. This ability to spot opportunity gives way to increased creativity and, subsequently, stronger ideas that lead to stronger results.

Building long-term sustainability and trust through empathy

Growing an agency built on empathy ensures employees will be receptive to the pressures and strains that surround their clients. Being aware of these and responding to them quickly allows for rapport to grow, leading to real, long-lasting relationships. The subsequent effect of this is growth built on trust and appreciation; it is growth that is sustainable.

So, who needs to empathise?

Empathy is crucial to success in an expansive range of careers. Whether it’s teachers striving to understand the stresses and strains of growing up or soldiers exploring the concerns of locals in their homelands, empathy remains core to success.

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