Here’s why empathy is your biggest tool in business

Call us soft, but we’ve been thinking a lot about others lately. Don’t worry, we’re aren’t going mushy in our old age – we’re a tough bunch, us Yorkshire lot – but we’ve come to the conclusion that empathy might well be the most underrated tool in any business weaponry.

Here are some of the ways adopting a little more empathy in the way you do business might just affect your bottom line for the better (and leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside to boot.)

Empathy helps you create something people need

Some of the most successful businesses in the world were borne from a desire to service a need identified through a pain point. Netflix empathised with people’s lack of time and so created a way for them to watch things without having to find time to visit a rental DVD store, for example. When you empathise with a problem and the pain it causes, such as less time to spend with your family, you’re far better placed to come up with a solution that works.

Empathy shows you new opportunities

When the founders of Uber couldn’t hail a cab on a snowy night in Paris, they realised they couldn’t possibly be the only ones. And so the world’s number one ride-sharing app service was born and the rest, as they say, is history. Empathy doesn’t just help you identify ways to meet people’s needs, it also makes you realise that we all share the same issues. Acknowledge them and all of a sudden, opportunities to resolve them will arise.

Empathy helps you understand the complaints

The best businesses are human and the best customer complaints departments act like it. Reading from scripts and sticking to rigid policies simply doesn’t sit well with an irate customer, but making it clear that you share their pain and understand how the inconvenience has affected them could turn a fierce complainant into a loyal customer.

Empathy makes you a better boss

Which boss do you think gets the best out of his team; the one who barks orders and berates or the one who thanks you for doing all those extra hours and buys the biscuits in to show their appreciation? Empathising with your team shows that you’re human and that you share the same problems and victories as they do. Be understanding when life throws them a curve ball, celebrate with them when something amazing happens and cut them some slack when life or hardship gets in the way of them doing a perfect job every damn day. Being nice is never quickly forgotten and it’ll get you more willing volunteers for overtime than demanding and demeaning ever could.

Helm Free Fridays

Want to learn more? Head down to Helm on a Friday for Helm Free Fridays. Full use of the space with meeting rooms, people and coffee. Come see what we're all about.