Empathetic First Responses have the power to make or break a conversation. First responses decide the course of all your conversations and are extremely important to watch out for. A lack of empathy in your response can turn your conversations into an unnecessary escalation.
So, what do you do to make sure your first response is empathetic?
You make sure that you frame your first response properly.
Take this lesson to learn more about how to frame empathetic first responses. And don’t forget to take the accompanying quiz at the end of this lesson.
This lesson is in video format.
We recognise that some participants prefer reading to listening. If you are one of them, then you can access a transcript of the lesson by clicking on the View Transcript button below the video.
2. Offer Validation and Respect – Once you have called out the emotion correctly, make it safe for the other person to feel the way they do. This involves communicating an honest appreciation or acknowledgement of what the other person is going through, and their right to feel that way. Offering validation sounds like this:
“It’s understandable that would feel…”
“Anyone in your place would do/feel the same…”
“I think it’s only natural you’d feel like that…”
In an environment that is perceived as safe, where there isn’t fear of being judged, people feel comfortable sharing information more openly.
With these two steps out of the way, you could then choose to Extend Support, wherever appropriate. Here’s where you discuss how you will engage in the situation, moving forward. For example, to extend support, one might say:
“I’m here to help or support you in any way I can.”
Here’s how the earlier conversation between the service representative and the customer might have panned out, had empathetic listening and first responses been practiced.
Customer: (Gets through to a representative): Hello. You have to do something. Please. The drain in front of my house has backed up. There’s raw sewage spilling all over the street.
Service Representative: That’s terrible. * And I hear the worry in your voice. Thanks for calling it in.
Customer: The whole place is stinking to the high heavens. It’s a full-blown health hazard. There are kids living here.
Service Representative (sounding concerned): * I can certainly appreciate the urgency here, Sir. I’d be just as aggrieved had I been in your situation. Could I take your postcode quickly? I’ll have a team sent over pronto…
Customer: Thanks so much. My postcode is xx-xxxx
Service Representative: Got it. You said xx-xxxx. * I’m dispatching a team of field technicians now. They should get there in about 15 mins.
Customer: Thanks. These things happen I guess. 15 mins, you said?
A lack of empathy in first responses translates to apathy, leaving nothing but negativity in its wake. Empathetic responses, on the other hand, pave the way for greater depth and quality of conversations.
To formulate an empathetic first response
a. Call out the Emotion and
b. Offer Validation.
Doing so makes the other person feel understood and appreciated. One could then choose to extend support wherever necessary.
Remember though that empathetic listening, which we covered in the previous lesson, is the foundation on which empathetic first responses are crafted. Without empathetic listening to temper them, even the most articulate first responses will sound flat and at worst, patronising.
And as for the results – they’ll speak for themselves. You’ll see.
Please take the quiz below to proceed.