Make it Technology-Aided and Human-Powered: Be Compassionate

Thank you for joining me for this new series titled “Make it Technology-Aided and Human-Powered.” This series will provide tools to help you position your customer and employee experience for relevance in a COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 world. This installment is titled “Be Compassionate.”

People are in love with technology these days, and well, they should be. It’s hard to imagine how we would have operated any business if this type of pandemic had occurred in the late-1970s without the benefits of the world wide web.

Many of us undoubtedly will look back on COVID-19 (whenever we can put this virus in the rearview mirror) and remember the value of cloud computing, online commerce, home delivery, and video conferencing. But what else will we recall?

I’m convinced that we will look back and remember leaders, colleagues, and brands that practiced compassion. Let’s explore the concept of compassion and contrast it to a topic I shared in a prior series – empathy. Let’s also distinguish compassion from sympathy.

While some people use the word compassion as a synonym for empathy, the words communicate subtle yet significant differences. Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of another person. By contrast, compassion reflects an emotional connection specifically to another person’s “pain or suffering” AND a desire to act (or actually take action) to alleviate that pain.

Let’s use a couple of examples to highlight these differences. I can empathize with you when you celebrate a personal victory, but I can’t show compassion since you aren’t suffering. Similarly, if someone falls in front of me, I can experience empathy but continue walking. To show compassion, I’d need to stop and offer help.

Here’s one last distinction in this installment, to set-up a discussion of compassion in my next post. Sympathy differs from compassion since sympathy is the acknowledgment of another person’s sorrow. Compassion is seeking to alleviate the underlying pain or suffering. In a business context, I think of sympathy as being courteous and compassionate, as being actively involved in the emotional well-being of those you serve.

In the weeks ahead, I will share how compassion is manifesting at the individual and business level; for now, I simply ask, who has shown compassion to you during the pandemic? What companies do you think of as being especially compassionate, and why? Most importantly, do you think those you serve will look back on the way you behaved during the pandemic and describe you and your team as compassionate?

I’d love to hear how you’re effectively demonstrating compassion to team members and customers and possibly share how some of my clients are doing the same. 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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