As consumers, we make buying decisions every day. Although we like to think we’re savvy and emotionless when it comes to decision-making, that’s simply not true. We are all emotional creatures (granted some more than others).
Whether we’re buying a home, a TV or a tube of toothpaste, we are attracted to empathy. When people get us, we like them, are drawn to them and more open to what they have to offer.
Empathy is what we want and when we get it, we open up.
Our Reptilian Brain Protects Us
In business, just as in everyday life, people keep their cards close to their chest. Whether we’re on a first date, being introduced to a new social group or starting a new job, we tend to have a mask that protects our true identity from the unknown.
Only when we become comfortable in the given environment, do we slowly start to reveal our true selves bit by bit. Even if you’re the outgoing bubbly personality type, chances are, you can resonate with this on some level.
This instinct is human nature. It is our reptilian brain keeping us from harm. We are comfortable with what we know and until we get the lay of the land, we see the unknown as a threat.
Common interest opens the door
Although as individuals, we understand these rules of engagement, within business, it almost always gets overlooked. When a business (person) gets the opportunity to speak to their audience, they often fail to address this protective mask and more often than not, their message is not received.
Within a social situation, the point of entry into a real conversation will almost always be a shared interest, whether it’s sport, dining out or a mutual friend. The main reason for this is the shared experiences we have with the topic.
For businesses and their potential customers, this point will always be the problem that that person has that your business has the solution for. Not just the problem itself but everything related to that problem from how long they’ve had it, to the impact it has on their lives.
Empathy is the key to connection
Empathy is about understanding another person’s situation from their perspective. It is not a gift that people are born with but a learned skill.
As experts in our given fields, the more knowledge we have, the further away we are from seeing the situation empathetically (i.e. from a position of little or no knowledge). We may talk shop based on assumptions that whoever we are talking to, understands where we are coming from or the lingo we use.
This is where empathy gets thrown out of a typical interaction with an audience. We address the problem or situation from our own perspective, not theirs. Even those of us that do tone it down, rarely do so enough and continue to discuss the solution from our own perspective.
We are attracted to understanding
It’s in our nature to want to buy from people that we like or trust and we can all resonate with that. Why is it that we say something “feels right”? Because “feeling” more so than logic, is the primary reason for a given purchase.
Take the scenario of buying a television as an example. When you go into the store, one sales rep hits you with all the features and technical info while the other talks about the model he has in his home and the problems he faced when deciding what TV to buy.
More than likely, you’re going to listen to the guy who told you about his personal experience. Even if we know the first guy knows more about TV’s, we are attracted to people who understand us. Because of that, we override logical information for that empathetic feeling of understanding and connection.
Make it all about them
When trying to communicate with your audience, don’t be too quick to fix all of their problems at once. If you haven’t taken to time to show them a little understanding and empathy, then they’re not likely to hear what you’re saying, no matter how good it is.
Take it slow; focus in on the problem they have and what that means to them. Talk to them from their point of view and demonstrate that you understand the situation they’re in. Once that empathetic feeling of understanding is made, they will open up and contribute to the connection you have made.
The chances of them doing business with you from that point on have been raised significantly. Even if they don’t, you have made a connection and as a result, you have added a block to the brand you are building.
We often have ready-made solutions to pre-existing problems that we look to steamroll our audience with but business is about making connections and building relationships first. In order to do that, we need to be human and empathise with the person we are speaking to.
Remember, every interaction you have with your audience is a block to the brand you are building. When you make a connection, you create a solid block that gets added to your brand.
Keep making connections and keep adding blocks. Over time, your brand and your reputation will grow.
Stephen is a passionate Brand Creator and Founder of Iconic Fox Brand Agency. With a background in both financial markets and design, he is well positioned on brand strategy and creative and is passionate about both. Stephen has been featured on Marketo, Hubspot, Inside Small Business, Creative Bloq and more for his expertise on brand strategy and creative.
He’s also a friendly chap so if there’s something you want to know about brand, he’d be happy to get into it with you