The Agilist Network

Tales and Tips from Agile Software Projects

Best Practice of the Day: Empathy

Posted by kenhoward on May 25, 2007

At least 3/4 of my success as a consultant can be attributed to one concept: Empathy.

I try to practice empathy with every communication (verbal or written) with everyone about everything. By considering how what I plan to communicate will be received by the other party, more often than not, I’ll rewrite the script before delivery.

Biblical Empathy: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. (The Golden Rule)”

Sales Empathy: “Would I buy this if I were him listening to me?”

Parental Empathy: “How did I feel when my Father gave this same speech to me?”

Cashier Empathy: “What a sucky job that must be. What can I say that will make her forget her tired feet and feel good about herself for the next 10 minutes?”

And the list goes on…. you get the idea though.

Oh yeah, and for Empathy to work, you must expect nothing in return. Most people can see through contrived (phony) empathy.


2 Responses to “Best Practice of the Day: Empathy”

  1. Sean said

    By the way, I like the first 3×5, can’t wait for more…

  2. Sean said

    I like the empathy angle. Somehow-but I have the feeling I’ll never see this happen and know that I risk being called naive-I want public education to be partially responsible for spreading this type of behavior, not only as a sales pitch or business strategy but as a lifestyle that happens without thinking. Reading this entry, I immediately had thoughts of Buddhism. And – no matter why one decides to ‘practice’ living this way, it seems that spreading empathy can never be a bad thing.

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