[Emotional Competencies1: Empathy, Service Orientation]

Came across this video yesterday that I thought you might enjoy. It is 4 minutes long and has a profound message.

The video reminds me of the value of empathy in our interpersonal relationships. Far too often, when we come across customers, colleagues or family members who appear to be unreasonable in their expectations or just plain difficult to work with, the temptation is to either take the fight to them, be defensive or just be indifferent. Neither of this is a great solution if what we are looking is an improved outcome and a stronger relationship.

Through my NLP training, I learned that great influencers believe that “there are no unresourceful people, just unresourceful states or moments”. All of us have had times in our life when we weren’t feeling the best and in that state, made decisions we regretted. I believe the key to being great at relationship-building is to first believe that people are innately good, desire to be good and given the right direction, tools, resources and emotional states are capable of great acts of kindness. The video reminds us that many people we come across are burdened with fear, anxiety or hurt of some sort and this often affects their behaviour, which could rub us off the wrong way. It’s useful to remember that in such situations, their behaviour is not a reflection of what or who you are, but of what might be going on in their lives at that moment.

What I’ve learned, through practise (you might remember I used to be a pretty shy kid who found even starting a conversation with a stranger very uncomfortable) is that the best way to work with others is to choose to find the good in them and to be proactive about offering them kindness.

When I get into a taxi, for instance, I first scan the dashboard for a name and offer the driver a cheery greeting. Almost 100% of the time, this simple and effective icebreaker begets a positive response (you get the “how did you know?” look). Sadly, someone being willing to do this appears to be the exception rather than the norm these days. On the flipside, this does mean that it’s not too hard to “stand out” (pretty cool, huh?) and make friends!

1An emotional competency is a learned capability based on emotional intelligence that

results in outstanding performance at work. Our emotional intelligence determines

our potential for learning the practical skills based on the five elements:

self-awareness, motivation, self-regulation, empathy, and adeptness

in relationships. Our emotional competence shows how much of that

potential we have translated into on-the-job capabilities.”

(Goleman, Working with Emotional Intelligence)

In the words of Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”. Greeting a person by their first name – simple yet powerful. These days, customer-facing staff at most hotels, restaurants and even companies, wear name-tags. They’re there for a great reason. What a wonderful advantage this offers us to establish rapport with them. When on the phone with a stranger, always take time up front to introduce yourself and then ask “and may I know who I have the privilege of speaking with please?” I find it really helps set a positive tone for the call.

Naturally, this works best when it’s sincere – when we’re genuinely interested in people and know that we can make a difference, however small, in every interaction we have with them. All it takes is a smile, or greeting that person by name.

I am often asked how I’d rate the level of service from a particular hotel, restaurant or organisation. I can honestly say that more often than not, I receive tremendous service. And not because I only visit joints with that sort of reputation. I believe that comes from the attitude of “serving” that person first. You may not always have it coming back to you but I’ve found that by being that way, I feel much happier about my day. And isn’t that what we’re really after every day, anyway?

So, keep smiling, find the good in others and make their day by acknowledging them in some way, if only by greeting them by their name! Make this the most amazing day you deserve!