Better Than Normal | The Empathic New Days

This is the fourth installment in a series titled “Better Than Normal – Designing Transformative Experiences,” which will provide tools to help you position your employee and customer experience for relevance in a COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 world.

Before I dive into this week’s post, I’ll take a moment to explain my word choice for the title – The Empathic New Days.

I used to use the word empathetic until a researcher in the field corrected me. She said, “‘Empathetic is wrong and empathic is correct.” She added, “There is nothing ‘pathetic” about empathy. Henceforth, I’m in the empathic camp.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s look at how the world has gotten better thanks to an upsurge in empathy.

As you likely know, the word empathy comes from a German word that roughly translates as “feel into” and humans are hard-wired to feel into the emotions of others. For example, neuroscientists have found that the same neural pathways which activate when we feel pain also fire when we observe the pain of others.

Let’s connect that to our “Better than Normal” world where no one escaped COVID-19 without pain. Granted, those who died, had loved ones die, or lost their livelihoods were at the more extreme end of suffering, but everyone took a hit. It was if we were on different boats facing a cataclysmic storm.

Given the ubiquity of suffering, we instantly were connected to and felt into the pain of others. Some people sadly bounced off the shared experience and became more self-absorbed (I suspect out of their belief that safety was easier achieved by going it alone).

Others stayed engaged with their empathy and understood they had an opportunity to connect with others in profound ways. Clients of mine that reached out quickly and consistently, from a place of empathy, connected with customers in emotional ways that I suspect will solidify relationships for years to come. They truly acted from the shared “we” of the crisis, as opposed to the self-serving “me.”

Where is the pain, joy, and worry for your team members and customers? How do you feel into those emotions and maintain your focus on helping your stakeholders join you toward seeking safe harbor in the storm?

In future installments, I will share more thoughts about how we can build on the best of our current situation to make tomorrow’s normal even better than today. If you’d like to hear how my clients are demonstrating empathic listening or just want someone to offer you empathy, let’s talk.

Please reach out to me here.

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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