Thursday, December 27, 2007

Leadership Tip 2.1

In my Leadership Tip 2 post, I delineated six reasons why most things happen (i.e. gifts given, leaders followed, deals made), irrespective of the cause being supported. They are:

#1 - Pleasant
#2 - Polite
#3 - Intention toward a specific goal
#4 - Energetic
#5 - Record of Success
#6 - Ambitious Goal

This is not definitive and is certainly not the case in every instance. One can look at this list and identify people who have been very successful that were neither pleasant nor polite. Well...I can also identify several women that could beat a man down, but most probably can't -- without cheating. The point is, most good leaders demonstrate these traits to some extent.

First, some background...

I begin my trek this morning by talking to the insurance problem...I go to the primary care doctor...I wait a good while, but still no problem (they had the January edition of PC World)...I head to the lab next door...small problem. But just a small favorite people in the world informed me that they couldn't do this particular blood test, I had to go to hospital to get it done. But, they were very understanding and answered all of my questions (wrongly, unfortunately).

So, off to the hospital. I register, take my paperwork to the bored looking lady at the desk...

"How may I help you?"
"Hello, here's my paperwork for my blood tests."
"Oh, you have to schedule an appointment for this test. You'll have to call to set it up and come back."
"They told me that if I got here by 3 they could do it."
"No, you have to schedule an appointment and make sure you're not taking aspirin 5 days in advance."
More questions and answers...I thanked her and left.

So, what's my point here? Empathy. I left the lab feeling pretty good, even though I had to go out of my way and take up more time. I left the hospital feeling that she was glad to be rid of me.

Both were polite and answered my questions directly.

But, the phlebotomists informed me that they couldn't do the test with empathy in their voice. The pencil-pusher at the hospital delivered the bad news with no expression if she was repeating a mantra and I just happened to be the object upon which her eyes rested for no particular reason.

I think this is huge...people want to know that you are putting yourself in their position, even if you can't do anything about it. And if you attempt to do something about it, so much the better. People want to connect, especially with one whom they consider a leader.

So, how do you connect? It differs with personality, but all it would have taken is for her to look at me and say, "Oh, I'm sorry that you came down here without knowing this, but..."

And don't look at people with those bureaucrat eyes, it really is a bit creepy, almost soulless when people deliver bad news with no expression. And it's downright maddening to be on the receiving end...think Motor Vehicle Administration when you don't have the 3 proper forms of ID...

1. People seek a connection, and empathy provides that

Action Steps:
1. Look into the next person's eyes that you deal with (especially if delivering bad news) and see the person, not an obstacle or annoyance.
2. Think about what you would like to hear in that situation -- empathize -- and verbalize your empathy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree--empathy is where it's at! It boils down to; treat people the way you wish to be treated, especially if one is an authority figure--no blank stare or patronizing attitude. Let the person know that the transaction is from one human equal with same--that "just doing job", and "facts is facts." is what is going on here, and regardless of the situation, you do empathize with their perdicament.

If empathy is displayed even to a slight degree it will tend to smooth over an otherwise total negitive response.(At least in some cases--some people cannot be reached!)

As a retired state trooper it was not uncommon for people(not subjects)to thank me for a traffic ticket or even an arrest as we were riding together to the jail. No, they were not gratful for the ticket or jail--they would tell me how grateful they were that I treated them with respect.(with a little bit of empathy thrown in)
Then, in many cases they would proceed to recount some war story where a cop had mistreeted them in a belittling way.

I know how you feel Daniel. I hope that you stared real hard right back at em!

Authority figures--beware!--we are on to you!!

White Bear