Career, Consumer Behavior, Digital, Education, Management, Marketing, Personal Branding, Storytelling

Are you an Empathizer or a Controller?

2019-03-22 (2)Source: www.sarabaras.com (Sara Baras Oficial)

Renowned Flamenco performer, Sara Baras, emphasizes in her documentary “All the Voices”, that we have to pay attention to the messages we hear.  As she walks us through her career, she shares the importance of knowing your voice, and recognizing what’s the voice you want to listen to, the voice you want to follow.  

I had just finished reading a Research paper published by the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science (1997 Ramsey and Sohi), where they present a compelling analysis of the three different components involved when it comes to listening to a customer from the point of view of a salesperson.   The components are described in the paper as “Sensing, which indicates receiving stimuli and attending to the message. The second component is evaluating. This consists of those cognitive processes that allow the message receiver to assign meaning and value to the message. The third component is responding, which allows the receiver to develop and display an appropriate reaction to the message.”

I wanted to take the three components (sensing, evaluating and responding) beyond a buyer-seller scenario and apply them in all communication interactions.  After all, sensing, evaluating and responding sounded like a very simple formula to discover the power of empathy. Being able to step into somebody else’s shoes is a management skill that has received praises by some of the most important business publications, (e.g. Forbes) and here I had the winning formula.

As I was convinced that Empathy was the key to communicate effectively with all consumers, I ran into a video presentation by the Harvard Business Review, titled What people really want from customer service.  In this video, HBR shows how managers are hiring Customer Representatives that focus on Empathy to solve consumer problems, when in reality Customers prefer to talk to a representative that is “Outspoken and Opinionated” (Identified in the video as The Controller), who “uses his expertise to direct the customer interaction”.   

Yes, the video focuses on Customer Representatives, while the research focuses on Sales, but the premise of the HBR video is that with automation customers are getting used to solve small problems, and only want to talk to customer service when the problems are complex.  

With the exponential development of technology, and machine learning everybody in your organization needs to be trained to represent the brand.  Selling is not a single action, but a holistic process with multiple touchpoints.

So, Do you pay attention to the research paper that emphasizes in listening as an empathic process, or focus in developing skills as The Controller of the HBR video?  I would say none and both. I would say the same thing Flamenco Superstar Sara Baras mentioned in her documentary. Know your voice, and recognize the voice you must follow.

Every scenario is different, and in the customer journey, when talking to different target personas, or throughout your career, when talking to managers or future employees, you must be able to adapt and evolve your communication style depending on the scenario.  Knowing all the aspects, understanding the “Empathizer”, the “Controller”, plus the other personalities mentioned in the HBR video will give you leverage when it comes to establishing fruitful and engaging interactions.

What’s your voice?, and What’s the voice you want to follow?  

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