Empathy at its simplest form is the capacity to venture into the shoes of someone else. It is the ability to comprehend their emotions, points of view, and rationale.
When a presentation is conducted we are looking to maximize our message. We wish to really connect, inspire, or at the very least impart some knowledge or information.
Is there a better method to ensure our objectives are met than to really put ourselves in the shoes of our audience to curate a strategy for the message to be well received? Maybe. But let’s start with this.
Here are 5 philosophies to amplify your Empathy capabilities to create smashing presentations for your target audience.
Philosophy 1: ABC – Always Be Curious
Highly empathic individuals have an unquenchable thirst in people outside of their normal circles. They often observe strangers in the daily passing of life. This may be on the street, on the way to work, even at dinner at a restaurant. Is not apt that we call this activity “People Watching”?
The most keen often will go up to these strangers and strike up a conversation. It is amazing what is often discovered in these random chats. The insights and stories really helps shape what we know about others.
Take the challenge and be curious. Find a strange and have a chat. It may be uncomfortable at first but you will surely be aptly rewarded.
Philosophy 2: Same Same, but Different? Look for similarities and challenge assumptions
Our world is highly complex and full of diversity. The human mind needs to segment and compartmentalize our experience to cope. Even chess master do this. It helps us process faster and move quicker in our lives by looking at patterns. It helps us handle uncertainty, by lumping them together the unknowns with other experiences.
Of course, we all see the downside of this. Stereotyping and other extreme forms causes real of issues when it comes to race, religion, creed, and social status. Take what you assumed and challenge it. Patterns are meant as guidance and not a be all end all. Allow it to grow and evolve. It will be amazing what new worlds awaits you and insights you will have.
Philosophy 3: Experience Trumps All – Literally Be in Their Shoes
The most powerful way to be empathetic is to literally be in their shoes. Go out and experience some of the very things your audience has experienced. Try “Eating in the Dark”, go push yourself to the very limit physically, or really travel and live in a completely different place. Although extreme, the experience is so powerful it may totally change your life’s view. Starting small you can eat at a local food stalls instead of a McDonald’s when you travel, learn a language that is not your own, or take on something you do not have experience in. Or even put on someone else’s shoes, such as the stiletto walk.
The very act in something foreign will shape you. How do you think Buddha came up with his 4 noble truths?
Why do you think some of the most powerful & successful individuals have such diverse stories?
Philosophy 4: Be Open & Listen Truly
This part cannot be stressed enough. Often we jump to conclusions or cut others off when they speak. This is an obvious sign of “not listening”. The words they share and the message they convey simply does not really come through or perhaps we stop them from even forming.
With that said, listening to verbal communication is just one part of a whole. Our bodies have 5 senses for a reason. Each sensor gives us clues and information to help us navigate our lives.
There are a variety of frameworks that can be taught to help people truly “listen”. Here we suggest that you focus on the more obvious first: Body Language, Tonality, and Words.
With these 3 areas of observation, you should be proficient enough to get most of the message that is given at any time or at least to pick up that there is more than meets the ear!
The second part to this, is to be open! Keep an open heart and open mind. Listen fully and allow the message to be absorbed first before making a decision on the next steps.
Can you catch when you are not truly open? Consider how you respond to a request or idea. If you start with a “No, But…” you are already in the space of rejection and closure. The other party already realizes this even if you do not.
So? Start any interaction, chat, or request with a “Yes and…” and you will see how quickly new avenues and new ideas flourish from within yourself and your counterparts.
Philosophy 5: Be Imaginative!
Sometimes the things we see, hear, or find out maybe incongruent to our current understanding. But that’s the beauty. It maybe literally challenging you on how you see the world. Use your imagination to create links and patterns.
Having the ability to imagine and stretch your comfort zone maybe the ultimate skill. It allows you to really challenge how you can best communicate.
Consider a moment that you are a champion for sustainable farming practices. It is worthwhile to really consider what Palm Tree owners may be thinking and motivating them. It may be tempting to simplify it down to money, but it may not be. Humans are very complex and our motivations are complex. Getting a real understanding and empathizing in an intelligent way may give you the right insights on how to shift their position.