The Importance Of Empathy In Network Marketing

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4 Reasons Empathy Is Good for Business How This Traditional Soft Skill Delivers Hard, Core Results for Organizations Large and Small

The Importance Of Empathy In Network Marketing

It's easy to be cynical these days. The 24/7 news cycle brings us extreme images and headlines about tragedies as soon as they happen. If you listen to the rhetoric, it's easy to believe that violence, sexism, ageism, xenophobia and prejudice are winning the day.

The Good And Bad Of Empathy

However, there is another — more positive — way to look at this. Access to information from around the globe gives us opportunities to consider the needs of and respond with compassionate action. Yes, playing with our emotions is the business model of cable news and social media. But what we choose to do with our emotions is up to us. So why not choose empathy?

We all know empathy is the right thing to do, but empathy isn't just good for the world (and our own health). It can also bring a competitive edge in business. Our ability to see the world from the perspective of others is one of the most important tools in our business toolkit. So let's go through the business benefits of empathy and acting with compassion.

skilled salesperson knows that the key to closing sales is anticipating your customers' needs and demonstrating how your product or service will best suit their needs. Truly understanding your customers' needs means reflecting on their fears, desires, pain points, and whatever keeps them up at night. If your sales team doesn't intimately understand your customers' , how can you expect them to explain how your products or services fit into their lives? This is the power of empathy in business.

Going beyond sales growth, what is even more valuable are loyal customers and strong referrals. To see repeat customers and customers turned into super fans, make sure this empathetic mindset animates the culture of your entire organization, from customer service to the accounting department.

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One industry where empathy clearly matters is the ultra-competitive airline industry. Any company that can make flying more convenient and enjoyable wins points with eternally frustrated passengers. By now, we're all familiar with this string of United Airlines PR gaffes that demonstrate the failure of empathy at the corporate level. But you may be less familiar with Ryanair's empathetic success. After implementing the “ Getting Better” program, which causes many customer annoyances such as hidden fees, unallocated seats and hand luggage restrictions, Ryanair saw its net profit increase from €867 million to €1.24 billion ($1.39 billion). CEO Michael O'Leary famously remarked, “If I had that being nice to customers would work so well, I would have started years ago.”

When customers perceive your company as empathetic, you'll see sales increase, but wait… there's more. Employees with strong empathy skills are also more productive and innovative. This means that if you want to increase efficiency and expand the number of problems you can solve for customers, you want to hire employees with strong “soft skills.”

Google knows this well. Since the company's founding in 1998, Google has focused on hiring the best computer scientists, software engineers, analysts and highly skilled STEM professionals. But when it comes to building teams, it turns out that soft skills are regular. Project Aristotle, a study launched by Google in 2017, showed that the company's most important new ideas come from B-teams made up of employees who display a wide range of skills, including: equality, generosity, curiosity about others' ideas, empathy and emotional intelligence. These teams may not have had the best scientists, but when team members feel confident speaking up and know they are being heard, great ideas are born.

The top performing companies also top the list of most empathetic companies. This might seem surprising at first: don't you have to be cut-throat and willing to win at any cost to be competitive in this global, capitalist economy? Well, if you've been paying attention, the answer will be obvious. In fact, statistics show that empathy is more important to business success than it's ever been.

E Is For Empathy

According to the Empathy Index 2016, a published by UK-based consultancy The Empathy Business which aims to analyze the internal culture of 170 companies across financial indices, “The top 10 companies (on the 2015 list)… grew worth more than twice the bottom 10 and generated 50% more earnings (as defined by market capitalization).”

So if the best managers and team members express empathy and a desire to act compassionately toward others, it stands to reason that companies with cultures that encourage empathy would attract highly engaged individuals. And that's what the data shows. Empathetic companies also have better retention and higher employee morale.

This makes a lot of sense when you consider what today's workers value. Good, high performing people have a lot of employment options. Among other things, the gig economy and access to technology have created opportunities beyond traditional corporate work. So it's time to think beyond traditional company benefits.

Additionally, according to a Gallup poll, 60% of Millennials are open to new job opportunities, while only 29% of them say they feel engaged at work. This means that less than a third of workers born between 1980 and 1996 feel connected to their companies. Studies by the Queens School of Business and the Gallup Organization show that this lack of connection can lead to higher absenteeism, lower productivity…and lower returns and a company's stock price over time.

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What skilled workers demand is a different kind of work experience: They want their voices — and workplace demands — to be heard. This is bad news for companies that don't consider company culture as they look toward future growth. Fortunately, making small, subtle changes to improve empathy in the culture can make a big difference.

All of these business benefits sound great, but none of them will make any company empathetic. To truly make a change, the first step is to WANT to understand where others are coming from. When you focus on wanting to understand your peers, you can cultivate empathy in your own sphere of influence, which can have a big impact on your team, your , and the world.

Employee of the month awards do not constitute an empathetic environment. When we feel that others value our contributions, we feel respected. While trying to create an empathetic environment from the top down is unlikely to work, letting workers know, through word and deed, that their work is valuable should be a daily focus.

Respect makes workers more engaged. There is an intangible value in feeling respected by peers and superiors. We are more likely to take personal responsibility, and our desire not to lose the respect of others means we will be more involved. Listen carefully to how employees talk about their work. Ask them what would make their job easier and make them feel heard.

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Motivate according to individual needs. In Daniel Pink's best-selling book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he points out that financial rewards are not universally enticing. Consider how your company rewards colleagues. How much better would things be if we asked our team members what they would like? Use empathy to see things from their point of view and act accordingly.

Think of ways to reverse the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as they would have them do unto them.” This rule applies to all stakeholders involved in your organization, from investors to board members to customer service representatives and customers. This is the mantra of the empathy mindset. Get out of your head. Engage in more active listening and curious conversation to unlock what matters most to them.

As you reflect on the business benefits of creating a more empathetic company, you may have noticed the irony of forcing yourself to put your interests aside by showing that it is actually in your best interest to do so. Of course, in an ideal world, the drive to do the right thing would be motivation enough. But because motivation is unique to each individual — and organization — presenting a menu of reasons to embrace empathy is a good idea. In my own career, I've personally seen leaders and marketers who embraced empathy only for PR reasons, but were personally transformed — and left wanting to do more good for the right reasons. Sometimes speaking initially with selfish motives can help people and organizations transform from the “outside to the inside” and end up making the world a more empathetic place.

Maria Ross is a brand strategist, author and speaker who believes that cash flow, creativity and compassion are not mutually exclusive. Her consultancy, Red Slice, provides advice and fast-growing businesses. Ross has written several business books, including The Empathy Edge and Branding Basics.

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