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    Entries in empathy (4)

    Thursday
    Apr252019

    The 4 words that show no - or low - empathy

    We know that empathy is a key way to build connections with people, deepen a conversation and strengthen trust. But I wonder ...do we too often confuse similarity for empathy?

    When someone shares a story or situation with you, and you’ve experienced it too, what do you say?

    We can too often rush in to sharing our story, our experience and our situation...because it’s happened to us too! Sharing similarities, finding common ground - sure, yes it builds rapport, connection. But don’t kill the opportunity for deeper connection and empathy in the rush to say your bit.

    These four words can kill empathy dead :

    Been There Done That.

    If you think it helps people feel better that you’ve done it too... pause...because it may not. That’s because it’s not validating their story or their situation they’ve just shared. It’s switched the focus to you.

    Empathy is not about being better, bigger, quicker, cleverer, the ‘winner’ or having done it or experienced it before them. Quieten down. Listen. Respond to what they’re saying without making it about you.

    Tuesday
    Feb232016

    Having a Design Mindset

    The skills we’ll need for 2020 and beyond are shaping up as a slick looking list!
     
    The skill of having a design mindset is right up there. 

    This doesn’t mean you need to know your way around design software, or know which colours go with what or even what an industrial designer does.

    Rather it’s the frame of mind, the mindset that you adopt to think, solve and respond to what’s going on in your team, business, industry … the world. 


    Beyond ho-hum
    A same/same response to strategy, performance, capability, culture and our teams is too ho-hum now. We can’t do the same as we always have.

    Businesses who need to adapt and thrive (that includes the solo operator right through to mega-global big name players) need to increasingly take a design approach to many parts of their business. 


    A Design Mindset
    I think a design mindset looks like this: 


     

    • Involve: it starts with people, finding out what’s going on, what’s working, what’s not, what’s needed. This is about connecting to your customers, colleagues, users, stakeholders.  
    • Ideate: you come up with ideas, possibilities; it's ingenuity at work. Here you use your creativity and problem solving smarts to think of possible solutions.   
    • Implement: start something, do something. Don’t wait until it’s complete, test out a minimum viable product, process or service. Put stuff to work, try it out, experiment and take note of what happens. 'Have a crack,’ as we say in Australia. 
    • Iterate: You improve and evolve and keep working on it. Release another version, go again, ‘Have another crack’. The refining, adapting and responding is what keeps you agile, current and relevant. 


    Having a design mindset is vital for change leaders, strategic planners, product owners, business owners, team leaders and executives.

    And when you adopt and apply a design mindset to the situations, projects and pieces of work that you're working on, you're better equipped to remain competitive and respond to uncertainty.   

    Strategy is changing; leadership is changing; organisations are changing. 

    We need to also change how we think about what we do if we want to get closer, go further and deliver better.

    Wednesday
    Mar112015

    Give good empathy

    "We apologise for any inconvenience caused."

    It's such a bland, banal, cover-all statement. I'm just not feelin' it though. I'm not feeling that you've REALLY understood the lengths to which your stuff, has stuffed up my stuff.

    Building deeper connections, trust and understanding with customers, clients, colleagues and users means you've got to give, first.

    In a workshop I was facilitating with customers and users recently, I made a point of giving. Deeply.

    While I'm listening - like all good leaders, managers, trainers, facilitators, coaches do - I really need to show I'm listening. I've got to 'give' good listening, to get good trust.

    So in workshops, conversations, sessions, I give empathy. Big time.

    Then when there's been 'an inconvenience' or 'any inconvenience', I'll take the time in a client, customer or user workshop to hear it.

    "But it's not on topic," whispers a designer on the project. "And it will build trust," I say later, "you'll get more engagement, trust and truth, later."

    It's called empathy. I think we need to show it more by naming what it is that might have 'inconvenienced' people in the past.

    Often people want to tell you their 'story' about a situation or experience. I've seen too many people cut off in the prime of their story because it's not on topic, or we don't have time, or they're waffling on or I don't have an answer for it or I can't fix it or <insert another low empathy excuse.>

    I'm sorry if this has totally stuffed up your calendar for the day. I'm sorry if this means you were expecting to do this, not that. I'm sorry if this has meant you've spent time doing this and feel like you've wasted that time. 

    Wow that must have really been annoying. Gee that must have been frustrating and irritating. Ooooh that sounds like it was a difficult thing for you to have to do. 

    Understand. Name the inconvenience. Go out on an empathy limb. Make them know you feel it. And don't be so quick to jump on to the next topic or story. Give.

    Wednesday
    Aug272014

    It's time to clean up our language

     

    Listening to people talking is something we do every day; listening in workshops, in planning sessions, in meetings, conversations and learning environments.

    I don't know about you, but I hear lots of 'dirty' language! Ok, not swearing, but rather let's call it 'unclean language'. 

    This is language where people interrupt, make assumptions, give directions, tell people what to do and dish out prescriptions. Yes... how much do you enjoy being told what to do? Often we may not intend to be so ... dirty... with our language, so it's something to be aware of. 

    We really do need to clean up our language!

    Clean language has the capacity to break down silos, build trusting environments, boost our capabilities to think, evolve our ideas and deepen engagement. It's an approach identified and developed by New Zealander David Grove. More leaders, coaches, managers and drivers of change might like the idea of achieving those things.

    You can read more about the technicalities of clean language here and here but a session presented at a conference I was at recently reminded me of the power of this clean listening and communication tool.

    In short, here's how you keep it clean:
    • listen using the person's words
    • use 'and...' to kick off your sentence or question
    • ask 3 key clean questions (where x is a word they've mentioned/used)
      • And what kind of x is that x?
      • And is there anything else about x?
      • And that's x like what ?
    • stick to these three questions
    • slow down.
    You can get the essence of the session from my visual notes.

    So... how 'clean' are you? How clean are the others on your team? 

    Boost engagement, build trust and break down silos in these challenging times by cleaning things up.