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Demonstrating Compassion

Question: Good account managers have to relate to and understand the needs of many different people.  What are some ways to do this effectively?

Answer: The best account people are usually very compassionate or at least are perceived to be.  If we loosely define compassion as an empathetic awareness of others – here are some things that can be done to demonstrate that.

  • Listening vs. Hearing – Too often in conversation we only register the words that someone is saying to us while we wait for our turn to talk.  That’s hearing.  But listening is about paying attention to what is being said and thinking about what it means and how you respond or react to it.  Repeating back to people what they said or re-phrasing it is a good way to acknowledge that you listened to them .
  • Ask people what they think – We are often so focused on telling people what we think that we forget to get their opinion.  This is particularly important in dealing with people who are not “type A” personalities or quiet people or people who are particularly thoughtful before they speak.  Show people that you really care about what they have to say.  It will go a long way.
  • Pay attention to small details about people – Everyone has some level of ego.  The fact that you remember something they said or something seemingly insignificant about them is both flattering and demonstrates that you are really paying attention to them.  (By the way, did you know that John Adams has a really big sweet tooth?)
  • Read a person’s “thought balloon” – Make the effort to play the game – “if I were in that guy’s shoes, what would I think?”  Most people’s thought balloons are usually some variation on the theme of “what’s in it for me?”  The account person who can figure that out and use it to position things to his advantage will always be ahead of the game.

A final thought – Bill Bernbach used to say that he carried a card around in his wallet and printed on the card was the phrase – “Maybe he’s right.”  A smart sentiment from a really smart guy.



Bruce Kelley

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