In the past two weeks, I’ve spent time with numerous business teams in a wide range of industries helping them revise their sales and customer service messaging.
Because the words they used prior to COVID-19 to speak with customers and inspire conversations with prospects no longer apply. Today, building relationships, creating trust and maintaining loyalty require everyone to communicate with compassion. And that comes with a few challenges.
What are the challenges we face when communicating with compassion? And how can we solve them?
The word ‘compassion’ comes to us from the 14th century and it literally meant “a suffering with another”. How appropriate! We are all “suffering” though this pandemic together and if we don’t acknowledge this in our conversations, emails and messaging, we will come across as cold, detached, in denial, egocentric and opportunistic.
For many of us though, expressing compassion is difficult because it involves creating an emotional connection. Bringing emotion into our business conversations is uncomfortable when your best communication skills are founded in logic. And, once emotion enters a conversation, it is easy for the business message to get derailed, or vanish completely.
While compassion is about connecting with emotion, it’s important to know that we don’t have to stay in this emotional space. Simply enter into it, however briefly, and convey your concern, interest and hopes for them at this incredibly difficult time. This will be remembered long after our pandemic isolation is over and will support both the maintaining and building of trust and loyalty.
You can express your compassion at the beginning of a conversation (or email) and then move into your business discussion, for example:
“Chris, The reason for my call/email today is to update you on our webinar schedule. Before I get to that, I do want to say that I hope you, your family and your colleagues are doing well.”
Or you can include it at the end:
“Chris, Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. (Or by email … Thanks for giving this your consideration.) I know everyone’s dealing with numerous challenges. I hope you and your family and your colleagues are fine. Stay well.”
Or you can ask a very direct question, such as “How are you doing?” This allows your client or prospect to really share with you their current experience, which is an amazing and generous thing to offer someone. Once you’ve asked this question … only listen. It is when we start to contribute our own worries and frustrations that we lose the thread of our business conversation … and it is difficult to get it back.
What about you? How are you expressing compassion to your clients and prospects? How are you structuring your business conversations? Share your ideas in the comment section below.