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Empathy

Empathy is merely the process of understanding what the other side is thinking or feeling. In terms of persuasion, it can be used to make the other side feel understood and disarm them due to this.

Empathy is a great technique to use, in specific, when the other side is emotional – when they have high amygdala activation (when the person is angry, in denial, in a crisis, or similar). In these cases, people create a conflict, which can usually be diagnosed as being one of two typeshot or cold:

  • Hot conflicts are when the person is aggressive, intimidating or similar, and empathy helps ramp them down;
  • Cold conflicts are when the person is withdrawing, not communicating, keeping things to themselves, and empathy helps them be more transparent;

The Persuasion Psychology Behind the Technique

Empathy works by decreasing amygdala activation. The amygdala, known as our “reptilian brain”, is activated when we are in situations of great distress or trust. And while in that state, people will not be logical. Empathy helps decrease its activation and bring the person back to the realm of logic.

Simply use statements of empathy verbalizing what the other side is thinking or feeling.

Usage

Sub-Techniques
(3 in Total)

Examples

Human Resources

Whenever you have a problem in your company and present it to HR, the first thing they will communicate is “I understand”, or “This must be hard”, or similar

Customer support

CS agents are trained to use empathy to disarm angry customers. “I understand this must be upsetting”, and so on

Hostage negotiations

One of the top negotiators leveraging empathy is Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator. He would use “Tactical empathy” to make terrorists feel heard… and then make them capitulate

Use Cases For the Four Quadrants

Key Takeaways
(3 Total)

How to Stack This Technique