In the world of customer service, there are templates for empathy. Here’s one I got the other day; I’m sure it will sound familiar:
“I am sorry that [one of the two items has a faulty connection]. We apologize for the inconvenience. I understand how frustrating it would be. Don’t worry. I’ll certainly assist you to fix the issue.”
Of course, you can [insert your problem here], and it’s quite possible that a computer program could have this conversation with you. In this case, I was, in fact, speaking with a human.
You can see the formula; I’ve been taught it myself in sales & service seminars:
ACKNOWLEDGE CUSTOMER’S FEELING + REPEAT BACK SPECIFIC ISSUE + APOLOGIZE + EXPRESS UNDERSTANDING + CONVEY ASSURANCE THAT YOU ARE HERE TO HELP
All of that, we are told, is to be done before even presenting the solution, all just to calm the customer down, and defuse the situation.
This does work, when done well.
But when it’s done robotically, whether by a human or not, it can miss the mark
For example, I was not frustrated or upset. I was just reporting an issue.
So the ‘copy & paste’ was unnecessary in this case.
I don’t have an issue with using a template for success, in fact, I use them all the time.
But the template has to be used as a general guide, not a rulebook or recipe.
True empathy doesn’t come from the template.
True empathy comes from listening with the intention to understand how the other person is feeling.