By now, you’ve read a few posts and maybe even listened to a Sixense Strategy podcast which means you’ve heard or read “empathy” a few times. You’ve also read about asking questions. You may have also peeked at the approach section of the Sixense Strategy site where you’ve learned about our proprietary Sixense Empathy Model™ and how it’s applied in Sixense’s work with clients.

There will be a series of posts that break down the Sixense Empathy Model further but first, we want to cover empathy, generally, and why there’s a fit within a business context. Let’s establish a definition for what empathy is:

the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.”

It’s important to stress this first part of the definition – psychological identification – because empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy means that you share the same feelings as another. Your view of things have a filter influenced by how you feel. Empathy means that you recognize and understand someone else’s feelings but, critically, you’re not sharing them and your view of things does not have a filter influenced by feelings.

You are observing. You are understanding. And, you are objective.

Being an objective and understanding observer makes you a good problem solver. You stand a better chance of understanding what’s a problem versus what’s a symptom and can separate the wheat from the chaff much faster. This ability to be an objective observer separates the average business person from the great business person.

The really great business people know that business empathy gives them a leg up on the competition. Despite having “skin in the game” it is of the utmost important to them to maintain objectivity. They know objectivity allows them to accurately see the landscape and then develop an effective course of action. Specifically, business empathy allows them to suss out:

  1. Who their customers are;
  2. What their pain points are;
  3. Where to best engage with them;
  4. When to intercept them in their buying, when to stay in touch when servicing them and when to let them be;
  5. Why the product serves customers best (competitive differentiation); and
  6. How to maintain the relationship.

It’s not as simple as it seems. Being inwardly focused is the default setting and having “skin in the game” often influences how business people evaluate risk and opportunity. It requires a certain mind shift to make that adjustment to objective observation and understanding of the other.

At Sixense Strategy, we love to help executives and entrepreneurs with a vision of what success looks like to them and help make this mind shift to business empathy. We offer a free 30-minute consultation to see how you can benefit from our strategy, coaching, and startup advisory services. Simply call 312.208.7329 or email parissa@sixensestrategy.com.