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Exceptional entrepreneurs today need a wide array of skills and traits to be successful within their business. Empathy is a big trait that many may overlook, but it’s one of the most important characteristics a leader should possess. It can easily put you on the right track to success. How does being empathetic do wonders for you, and how can you develop it within yourself and your surroundings? 

First, let’s start by defining what empathy is. Empathy is the ability to detect other’s emotions and understand their perspective. Think about the golden rule you grew up with: treat others how you want to be treated. Being empathetic is taking that rule and sort of flipping it -- being considerate of how they would like to be treated.

Now, let’s dive into the six reasons why empathy is good for entrepreneurs:

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Creates Genuine Connections

When you learn to have empathy for others, you are creating and building a solid foundation for your relationships. It goes back to the simple idea of connection. When people feel accepted and validated, a connection is made. Think about times when you had a grieving team member or had to defuse tension with a colleague. Were you able to understand where they were coming from? Or did it cause some distance? 

The best thing you could do in these situations is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. When you’re able to see things from the perspective of others, you are able to empathize. 

You’re Selling to People, Not Organizations

Even if you’re not particularly seeing the face of everyone you make a sale to, you should treat the business as if you are. Sometimes seeing numbers (i.e. profits, analytics) can take the place of this. But it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, you are still selling to people with real feelings and experiences. 

Ask for feedback and adjust accordingly. Your customers will feel appreciated and it could even position your brand at the forefront of their mind. 

Builds A Stronger Team

Whether you have a team or are collaborating with other entrepreneurs, empathy can be a great asset to have. Working on a project with multiple people, your goal is to facilitate optimal team performance not just ensuring that people are following instructions and rules. Think about the mentality that a coach or therapist has. Ideally, you should be a support system for your members. Organizations with engaged employees who enjoy work have higher productivity, profitability, satisfaction, and loyalty

Start by having open conversations with everyone when taking on a new project. Get everyone on the same page so they understand what is expected of them if a conflict or other productivity-hindering factors arise. Let them know that you’re there for them as a safe space to talk about anything they want to express. When your team feels heard and comfortable, problems are able to be nipped in the bud faster. 

Increases Brand Loyalty and Trust

Many skilled salespeople know that a major key to closing sales is anticipating your customers’ needs and showing how your product or service will benefit them. In order to do this effectively, you must really understand your customers. Consider what their fears, desires, and pain points are. If you can’t understand your customer’s lifestyle, how can you expect them to explain how your products or services fit their lives?

Going beyond sales, what’s even more valuable is brand loyalty. This means making sure that your whole company values and practices empathy mindsets. By ensuring each customer feels understood when interacting with any department of your business, you can increase repeat customers who go on to spread the word.

Encourages Engagement and Collaboration

When you’re willing to act compassionately toward others, your brand will stand out in any saturated market. This can attract highly engaged individuals who want to engage or collaborate with your brand. Empathetic companies have better retention among customers and team members.

This can make a lot of sense when you consider what today’s workers value in a company. According to one study, 60 percent of Millennials are open to new job opportunities, but only 29 percent of them report feeling engaged at work. A lot of this is due to the lack of connection to others in a work environment. This can trickle down into a poor work ethic and a lack of results over time.

Ensure that your company culture is strong. Take time to get to know your team members and colleagues. Celebrate successes, problem solve collectively, ask for their perspective. The more collaboration, the more engagement, and success will result.

Little Changes Can Bring Big Results

All of these business benefits are great, but to really make a change, the first step is to want to understand where others are coming from. When you focus on wanting to understand, you can cultivate empathy and teach others how to do the same.

Here are some key things to consider as you plan ahead for 2021:

Create a new acknowledgment system. Employee of the month or awards that single one person out amongst a crowd does not aid in creating an empathetic environment. You want everyone to feel appreciated for the hard work they’ve put in. Let everyone know how valuable their work is on a daily basis.

Always show respect. There is something about feeling respected, especially from colleagues and superiors. You’re more likely to take on responsibilities in a personal manner in the desire to not lose the respect of others. Make sure everyone is heard and never dismiss an idea, question, response, etc.

Create incentives based on needs. Financial rewards are great, but it’s not always enticing to everyone. Get feedback from others on how they would like to be rewarded. Using empathy to see things from their perspective can result in better outcomes. 

As you reflect on empathy, keep these reasons in mind. It’s not always easy trying to rewire your brain and form new habits. It takes work and commitment to stay consistent. But, creating a more empathetic place will be well worth it for yourself and others. 

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