The Power of Empathy and Multiple Perspectives

The concept of empathy is easy enough to understand at a high level – all we have to do is understand one another, put ourselves in their shoes, right?

In practice, however, when you’re in the trenches of customer service, dealing with people or responding to an email, it’s not always so easy.

But there is a useful method from a champion boxer* we can apply called ‘multiple perspectives’:

In an interview with a commentator, the boxer was asked what he does to get “in the zone” for a fight:

“Well, the first thing I do is I view my opponent and the fight from my own eyes. And I also see the fight from my opponent’s perspective. And finally, I imagine the view from the audience’s perspective, watching us both.”

“So you’re saying you first see the fight from your perspective, and then you imagine it from your opponent’s…”

“Oh no – I see all of this at the same time.”

What he describes is a sense of expanded awareness or consciousness, commonly experienced in extreme sports which require high levels of concentration.

This form can especially be helpful in dealing with customers, clients, co-workers or even your boss.

For instance, when writing an email in response to a customer complaint, imagine seeing the words you type appearing on your customer’s screen, through their eyes, with their emotions. This is what it means to put yourself in your their position.

As you are typing, you can more readily gauge whether you are moving towards a resolution, or away from it – this is incredibly valuable.

At the same time, imagine a third person’s perspective, like watching your customer interaction in a movie. This helps give a greater sense of context. When watching a conflict in a movie, you want to see a resolution (why cliffhangers work). But this has the added benefit of making sure the customer isn’t just taking you for a ride.

Remember, every customer complaint is an opportunity to create goodwill and a positive outcome. To create a ‘wow’ experience, a ‘movie’ they’ll want to tell their friends about, for all the right reasons.
The above method of ‘multiple perspectives’ is a helpful way to foster this.

Guest post written by Vincent G. Chun, REALEdU

*Couldn’t find a reference or attribution for the boxer, this is more to illustrate the method.