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How to Muster the Courage to be Kind

August 22, 2017

Today’s guest post is another from Gil Lhotka, Director of Customer Success at Kronos. He dives deeper into the concept of “empathy,” as the second of the 5 Commandments of Customer Success.

Be Empathetic.

“Don’t find fault with the man that limps, Or stumbles along the road. Unless you have worn the moccasins, he wears, Or stumbled beneath the same road.”

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These words written in 1895 by Mary T Lathrop are still quoted daily around the world. We have shortened them to “Walk a mile in his or her shoes.” The quote reminds us to consider someone else’s point of view, position, and personal impact.

Every organization has different challenges, and understanding what they are at the surface is only part of the recipe for success. Beyond simply knowing and understanding the problems that customers face, we also have to recognize the impact those challenges have on their organizations and on them as individuals. We build stronger relationships when we internalize the personal and professional impact of other’s experiences.

Years ago, I collaborated with a client struggling with turnover rates. Each time a new person joined the team and was brought up to speed, someone else would leave, and the process would repeat. This cycle continuously delayed the original timeline, as progress would halt while key positions were sought after, hired, and trained. It was frustrating for all parties involved. Decisions were questioned and sometimes reversed, and disagreements were frequent.

It’s during these challenging times that relationships have the greatest opportunities to strengthen. In a candid discussion, I inquired about the turnover and learned that the company was moving their corporate headquarters across the country. Without a clear understanding of what the relocation would mean, the uncertain employees pursued employment at other companies. With this new information, I could empathize with the customer’s situation and imagine what it must feel like to be in his position.

CV_Meeting-LaptopWe started to work together differently moving forward. We determined an action strategy, put plans in place to quickly address project team member onboarding for new employees, and discussed the reasons behind previously agreed upon decisions.

Mary T. Lathrop said it well in her now famous poem titled Judge Softly. These types of scenarios play out every week, and if we look for the opportunities to ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,’ we often walk away with even stronger, trusted relationships.

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