What Brought You Here Today?
There is a difference between someone who is sympathetic towards you. And someone who starts with empathy. “I really want to solve your problem. I can help you.” This is what sympathy sounds like. The person may mean well, but it is about them.
Cate is a small business owner who is looking for someone to help her. She has spoken to numerous Business Coaches. They are sympathetic to Cate’s situation. They have jumped straight to problem solving. They have all come back with what they are going to do, and how they are going to do it. But they have not spent anytime asking Cate a simple question. “What are you trying to do.”
By the end of the conversation, Cate feels that these business coaches don’t understand what she does. As a result, she does not know where to turn.
Finally she finds a business coach who starts with empathy. He starts the meeting by asking Cate a question, “What brought you here today?”
And then he listens as Cate shares:
He understands the importance of Cate sharing all this information. Because in the middle of it all lies the solutions to Cate’s questions. Less problem solving and more open questions. Guiding Cate towards a possible solution. One that she will comes across. The power of empathy is that the business coach understands that Cate is the best person to find these solutions.
The difference between sympathy and empathy is one “killer” question.
What brought you here today?
It helps when you start with empathy.
Image by Quinn Kampschroer