Empathy, Compassion, and Accepting Offers

Empathy, Compassion, and Accepting Offers

In our continuing series on what it takes to accept orders instead of selling, business broker legend Doug Robbins takes a deep dive on how you can utilize empathy and compassion in your work. Robbins is one of the world’s leading business brokers and M&A experts. Having finished 1,000 assignments related to advising his clients on M&A, Robbins has completed over 400 business sales and personally invested in 32 businesses. In the 4th and final part of his series on “Accepting Offers Rather than Selling Businesses,” Doug Robbins provides powerful tools that will help you take your business to the next level. The original webinar can be found here.

The power of empathy and compassion serve to elevate what you can achieve with your clients. In part, this is due to the transformative nature of these emotions. As Robbins notes, “Empathy and compassion are little understood and seldom used tools that make a huge difference in completing transactions.”

In his view, it is essential that business brokers and M&A advisors learn to apply compassion and empathy to both buyers and sellers alike. He states it is essential that business brokers are “aware of what drives both parties.” When you begin to gain more insight into how people are feeling, it will be a powerful tool in your toolbox that can help ensure more successful deals happen.

What Does Empathy Really Mean?

Empathy is the ability to understand what someone else is experiencing. Robbins wants you to realize that there is a significant difference between sympathy and empathy. As he states, “Sympathy is to see somebody in a deep hole, but you remain on higher ground, looking down at them in the hole…you’re trying to simplify things and put a silver lining on the other person’s situation.” In contrast, empathy is far different as one is required to “crawl down into the hole itself.”

Empathy is sitting with the person in the hole and being vulnerable at the same time. It is only when you too are vulnerable that you can connect with them. Or as Robbins notes, “the empathetic person will recognize your struggle, and the person struggling, without minimizing their situation and their struggle.” It is, of course, a profound difference.

The Two Levels of Empathy

There are various components to empathy. The first is cognitive, in which is when one is able to understand the facts of the other person’s situation. The second level of empathy is emotional empathy, in which one shares the feelings of the first person.

As Robbins explains, emotional empathy means that “You feel their concern, their pain, their depression.” Next, it is vital to balance between cognitive and emotional empathy. At this point, you will be able to act without being overwhelmed by the problem-solving process.

Integrating Empathy into Your Work

In Doug Robbins’s experience, learning to experience and utilize empathy doesn’t just happen overnight. As with so many useful skills, learning to use empathy takes time, practice, and effort. However, if you master the savvy use of these emotions, it will turn out to be a valuable part of your skillset.