Empathy: Why it’s an Essential VA Skill
Empathy means having the foresight to know what another person is feeling or thinking and being sensitive to their emotions. Simply put, empathy allows you to feel the emotions of another as if you’re going through them yourself. Practicing this daily in your professional life has a lot of benefits. Here are some reasons why empathy is beneficial for virtual assistants:
- Camaraderie between coworkers becomes positive and nurturing.
- The quality of customer service improves because of sincerity, care and willingness to help.
- Predicting the outcome and reactions of other people becomes second nature.
- Negotiation in sales becomes smarter, and closing of deals becomes more frequent.
- Marketing campaigns become relatable and successful because you understand customer behavior.
- You become a joy to work with because your clients see that you understand their expectations and needs.
The list doesn’t stop there. Empathy can also help you in your personal life with the people you care for deeply. All in all, being empathetic to the plight of others just makes you a great person by becoming a better worker, family member and friend. Practicing empathy takes time, and you have to consistently work on it. Here are a few simple ways to practice it as a virtual assistant:
The most basic of the cardinal rules in empathy is to not only listen but to listen well. When speaking with clients and teammates, avoid interrupting them. Speak only when it is your turn. This will drastically improve your comprehension skills and minimize misunderstandings. During online meetings, always have a pen and paper ready to jot down reminders and other important information.
Be an observer.
Minding your own business and keeping to yourself all the time won’t help develop your interpersonal skills. Take the time to observe the people that you work with. For virtual assistants who handle social media, digital marketing and customer service, it’s wise to do your research. Knowing your customers’ needs, aspirations and wants will you give you a better understanding of their behavior.
Avoid being judgmental.
Always have an open mind. Even during difficult situations with an irate client, try your best to empathize with their frustrations and grievances. Remember that unhappy customers have nothing against you. They simply want a solution to their problems. This is a reminder that will help you avoid taking things personally even during the worst case scenarios. Avoid passing judgment and just do your job well. Let your professionalism shine through at all times.
Be open to constructive criticism.
Understanding other people’s assessment about your work and not being easily offended means that you can see things from their perspective. Empathy also means that you don’t let your ego get in the way because you know that it has nothing to do with you at a personal level. You have to remember that assessments give you a chance at improving yourself and your craft.
Be a good communicator.
Since being a virtual assistant requires you to converse with coworkers and clients through emails or via chat rooms, be sensitive to their tone. There is so much unspoken communication that happens especially during conflicts. This doesn’t mean to say that you must always trust your assumptions. Always clarify and ask what others meant by their words if you are offended. Genuine empathy also happens when you are able to communicate your grievances in a diplomatic manner. This shows that you care about what the other person might feel. Say what you mean and mean what you say, but always do it with kindness.
When you are a virtual assistant, you will experience many challenges when dealing with people. Practicing empathy may not seem doable on a bad day, and it is admittedly very hard to empathize with someone you dislike. However, once you give it a try, you just might find yourself pleasantly surprised at how different your mindset can be about a difficult person and situation. Empathy definitely makes you look beyond yourself and helps you understand and appreciate other people better.