Communicating With Empathy in Times of Crisis
Updated: Apr 13, 2020
People remember the way you make them feel, especially in times of crisis.
One big thing I want you to know is that words can steer people's feelings one way or another.
How you communicate with your customers, clients, and team members during difficult times like this one will determine so much about those relationships moving forward.
As the owner of a debt collection agency, I've been involved in some of the most difficult conversations on the planet. I've also seen firsthand how the right words can literally create happier people.
No matter what kind of business you're in, you’re probably facing some tough conversations and decisions right now and feeling pressure to provide answers quickly.
I want to tell you that the number one way to create instant trust, confidence, and connection with the people you're talking to during this time is to validate them.
Validation is all about making people feel heard.
Validation builds empathy.
Everyone wants to feel heard and understood, right? When we find someone who connects with our struggles (or triumphs), we feel cared for and supported. We begin to see that person as an ally, and a level of trust forms.
On the flip side, when we don’t feel heard, we have a hard time moving on in a conversation or being emotionally receptive to a solution from that person.
Examples of validating phrases you can use are:
I can understand this is a challenging time.
I know this is frustrating.
Thank you for sharing that with me.
Another way to think about validation and empathy is putting yourself in the other person's shoes. You're not apologizing or necessarily agreeing with the other person. You're considering the situation from another point of view.
The pandemic has affected every one of us in some way. A lot of us share each other's fears and frustrations. Even if you can't relate directly to what someone is going through, it's important to show that person that you're considering his or her experience. Empathy and true human connection must be top of mind in times like these.
Communication is an area where I know we can create happier people and deeper connections. Validation is the first step.