Are you unsure of how to handle your business during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic? Me, too. Quite frankly, it’s a scary and uncertain time.
But I think I found 1 trait in particular I am going to lean on very hard right now to help me (and my clients) get through this.
First and foremost, I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy right now. My wife, son, dog, and I have been hunkering down and practicing physical distancing as best we can to help flatten the curve.
It’s been surprisingly difficult and easy at the same time.
It’s easy because I want and need the people in my life to stay safe.
The best thing we can do right now to protect others is to stay home. My wife and I also have a lot of healthcare workers in our lives, including all 4 of our parents and her brother, who put themselves at risk every day.
And we need to do what we can to not overwhelm the healthcare system by getting ourselves or others needlessly sick.
But it’s difficult to suddenly be denied so much of your life.
You take for granted all of those small “up close” moments with friends, family, neighbors, the mailman, the plumber…
What I wouldn’t give for some small talk with a waiter at an Applebee’s right now. Half off apps, please.
It’s also very hard on businesses.
People aren’t spending money like they normally would. People are losing their jobs in anticipation of a global recession. It really, really sucks.
It’s hard for me personally in my voice over business because a lot of video production (the source of a lot of my work) has been put on hold as people need to stay home and keep their workplaces safe.
And sure – I work from home every day. But there’s a difference between choosing to work from home and still having the freedom to go to other nearby studios, coffee shops, etc. and being forced to work from home. I hope you’ve been able to manage working from home if you or your company were forced to do that.
It’s easy to feel really lost right now as an employee or business owner…
What are we supposed to do now?
There’s no guide book to any of this.
Strangely, no one has written the “Idiot’s Guide to Conducting Business During a Global Pandemic”.
Can you get on that, Penguin Random House…?
But as I continued to think about what I’m supposed to do as a voice over actor, business owner, and person…
And as I paid attention to what was resonating with me as a customer and client to other businesses during this time…
1 trait kept coming up again and again…
Clients and customers are feeling scared, nervous, and anxious right now. As someone who has dealt with anxiety for the past 8+ years, including bouts of pretty serious panic attacks, the 1 thing I appreciated above all else was when someone would just listen to me. When they would show me their empathy.
Unsurprisingly, the businesses I most resonate with right now are also showing me empathy.
So as business owners and employees, we need to lean on empathy now more than ever.
And just so we’re on the same page…
The Collins Dictionary defines empathy as “the ability to share another person’s feelings and emotions as if they were your own.”
What can you do to show empathy in your business? Here are a few ideas…
- Truly listen to and care about what your clients are dealing with right now. Ask them their biggest struggles and really listen. Put yourself in their shoes. What worries would you have right now if you were them? And don’t immediately jump to a solution. Listen first.
- Be careful about what you say and how you say it. People are on edge right now. What you say can affect them now when it normally wouldn’t. That mass marketing email you normally send may come come across as insincere and cold right now. What would be more appropriate?
- Understand that every client and customer is feeling differently. While there are definitely commonalities between how people are feeling right now, each client has specific problems they’re dealing with today as a result of this pandemic. Show that you understand that their problems aren’t the same as everyone else’s.
- Once you learn about how your client is feeling, repeat it back to them. Show that you truly did listen. If they say, “I’m really having a hard time working from home right now”, respond by saying something like “I totally understand. Being forced to work from home when you don’t normally do it must be really difficult.”
This all might sound like relationship advice. That’s because it is. Clients and customers are people first. And they are showing their humanity now more than ever which is why they need a genuinely human response from businesses, not some corporate, canned nonsense.
And the best trait (I think) we should lean on right now during this global pandemic is empathy, both in work and life.