Originally Posted on LinkedIN.
I’ve written multiple articles and had long discussions on having empathy for your client and your customer. It’s your understanding and ability to live in their shoes, fear their fears, feel their joys and try to get an idea of what they truly want that is the invaluable secret sauce you need to make ok work become better. In the long run if you fake it or are unable to feel it, your lack of empathy that will drive you – or your client – out the door.
However, there are two sides to everything. Where is the invisible line that you need to stay on to not let your empathy for others outweigh your care for yourself? Thats not saying be selfish. It is however saying, that if you treat your client and their customer like a human being not a paycheque you should treat yourself equally well.
“Do onto others…”
The reality is most of us don’t. That is how we let good intentions bury us and create bitterness over time.
“I couldn’t care less” originated from Britain in the 50s. A decade later people in the U.S. started to say “I could care less” and dropped the “n’t” as a way to emphasize their words to be sarcastic. To this day it is a pet peeve to anyone who cares about grammar.
Regardless of the misuse – I assure you dear reader: you COULD care less. And often you should. According to the rest of the world it is our nature in Canada to be polite. We say sorry too much, we stay quiet too often, we are seen as the country that will take the higher road, we are accepting to a fault some days. When you are in a service industry this can be amplified. At times we seem to sacrifice way too much for the greater good of looking good in others eyes. I’m not sure if we are hoping for a pat on the shoulder or some silent appreciation for our invested time. Or if our work ethic can become self destructive to us.
So what can you do to care a little less but still enough?
I find the trick is in conveying to those you empathize with, that they should equally have empathy for you as the one trying to live in their shoes. Relationships are not a river, it does and should go both ways. This give and take can happen from having a personal and honest connection with them; human to human. Some people fear this. They prefer to wrap themselves in an armour and treat their job like warfare. Too afraid to give ground and focused only on taking control. When you keep a relationship with a client distanced, you take away their ability to see you or your team as people. People just like them who balance work with personal lives and creation with inspiration – and without that balance the work suffers and so does their business. Human to human.
If a client tells you they feel you don’t care about their business, pause and ask yourself if that is true. Then ask yourself if you feel they care about your business. You want to hear “yes” all around. Having any “no” will ultimately be the downfall of that relationship if you can’t turn it to a “yes”. And if both sides say “no”and are not interested in changing, expect the relationship to end soon.
I will always take a personal connection with my clients over a distanced one. I want them to know about my life as I want to know about theirs. If they have kids who have practice soccer every Friday night and I’ve committed to get something done I will be more motivated to hold back and share it with them Saturday morning to accommodate and respect that I’ll have more of their attention. And I want and WILL tell them that my Saturday mornings are actually for my daughters swim classes, so it will end up being later in the day. That may happen, or it may turn to a conversation that ends in “You know what, we can wait two days and just talk Monday, have a great weekend.” And Monday morning, I’ll be sure to ask them how their child’s soccer practice went.
It’s that openness that can leave you vulnerable if a relationship gets nasty, but its also that openness that will create a bond stronger than money or need and ultimately give you both a more rewarding time together. And often more business in the future. It’s a risk we should all be willing to take more often.
Be open enough to care a little less (but still care a lot).
Originally Posted on LinkedIN.
About The Author
Todd Lawson has worked as an gallery artist, commercial artist and a creative leader in advertising, design, illustration, CGI, publishing industries and software product design. As well as a leader in the automotive marketing space since 2002, Todd has been fortunate to have done some great work, worked with some great people and been recognized globally for it. He works with companies at all levels of development to lead, mentor, ideate, grow teams, guide projects, face to face interaction with clients, partner with vendors, seek out new technology and trends, plan and execute. See artwork, marketing projects and more articles at ToddLawson.com.