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The Importance of Empathy in Selling

The Importance of Empathy in Selling

Our behavior is a reflection of our attitudes, and our attitudes grow out of our values.

Jonathan Farrington

“If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him you are his sincere friend.” - Abraham Lincoln


Nowhere is this truer than in selling, where you are trying to persuade another, often a stranger, to make a decision they may not even have considered prior to your meeting.

The buyer-seller situation – like any human contact – is an exercise in human relations: the interplay, cause and effect of behavior by two or more people on each other. In the buyer-seller situation, the seller must be responsible for shaping mutual behavior.

What is the difference between human nature and human relations?

• Human nature is the instinctive behavior that governs action concerned with the self and with self-interest.

• Human relations are concerned with how we think and act in terms of other’s interests.

Successful selling demands that human relations be dominant over human nature.

Selling is not something a salesperson does to a prospect. Selling is something you do with the prospect in a process of discovery and interaction – human relations at work.

The greatest barrier to success in this process is the ‘Egocentric Predicament.’ This consists of being overly and unnecessarily concerned with self. Our ability to be perceptive and concerned about others is inversely proportionate to our self-concern.

When self gets unnecessarily in the way, the fruitful cycle of good human relations stops producing.

The key to understanding and accepting others, is to first understand and accept oneself – starting with the realization that, rather than strive for an unattainable ‘I should be’ image, we should settle for our real self as ‘I am’ – accepting shortcomings along with strengths.

The following points provide a practical answer to the ‘I am’ versus ‘I should be’ conflict.

Recognize it – and recognize that its source is rooted in the views of others.

Either (a) accept your ‘I am’ image or (b) decide on attainable, constructive steps to achieve ‘I should be’ in the future.

Our behavior is a reflection of our attitudes; and our attitudes grow out of our values.