The Significance of Empathy in BRM
Being a high-performing BRM requires many things – a collaborative spirit, a forward-thinking vision, and an ability to demonstrate executive presence, to name a few.
But when looking at top performers in this space, one trait stands out more than others: their ability to connect – and relate – to people as human beings.
High performers don’t see others by title, role, or office. They see them as people and engage them that way. That’s what most people do in their personal lives. But for some reason, they act differently in their professional lives and let stature influence the way they connect with others.
The best BRMs know that one of the ways to build meaningful relationships is to connect to others as human beings and not by job title. This means genuinely understanding the other person…their values, what motivates them, and how they see their world. It means seeing things from their perspective and feeling what they feel.
It means displaying empathy.
Top BRMs use empathy as a driving force in everything they do. This affects the relationships they develop – whether business partners or colleagues – and the amount of influence they will have to positively affect decisions and behaviors.
How is empathy used in BRM?
First, it’s about understanding what empathy is. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, to understand what is in their head and their heart.
One of the best definitions of empathy comes from philosopher Roman Krznaric, which reads:
“Empathy is the art of stepping imaginatively into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspectives, and using that understanding to guide your actions.”
High-performing BRMs live by this definition. Using what is learned differentiates the good from the great – it is the power of empathy!
How do High-Performing BRMs use empathy?
The top BRMs in the industry exhibit empathy in everything they do: The words they use, the way they behave, and the actions they take.
- Listening to what others are really saying, from their perspective, and not interpreting things based on your views, experiences, or background.
- Thinking before acting – addressing real, unique needs and avoiding standard approaches that simply maintain the status quo.
- Observing how others work, sensing their pain points, needs, and
- Designing communications as if you were on the receiving end, ensuring the “What’s In It for Me?” message is delivered.
- Taking actions that will benefit others and positively impact their
By doing so, BRMs affect the decisions others make, the way others behave, and the type of relationship they have.
Developing empathy is like building muscle. It will grow if you work at it. Ignore it, and it can waste away. So, what are some ways top BRMs exercise their empathy muscles?
- They use “The Power of ” They see things from the other party’s perspective and speak as if they are them. So, rather than saying, “My partner gets frustrated by the lack of progress,” they speak as if they are their partner. So, instead, they will say, “I am frustrated by the lack of progress.” This forces them to see things from the other party’s perspective by speaking as if they are them.
- They conduct empathy assessments to watch and listen when with others, seeking clues that will give them an idea of how they see their world.
- They gather information from a variety of areas that can yield information about the other party’s world – social media postings, office furnishings, etc.
- They shadow others (e.g., their business partner or members of their team) to see how they work, what gets them excited or frustrated, and how they interact with others.
People will make time for the things most important to them. Empathy should be one of those things – personally and professionally. So much can be done when you take the time to see things from the perspective of others. It is a powerful way to build meaningful relationships.
So, instead of meeting with the Senior Vice President of Human Resources or the CFO of your organization, remember that you are meeting with Mary, Bob, or Tom.
You are meeting with a human being just like yourself. Connect with them as such, and you will reap the benefits!
If you’re interested in gaining the skills of a High Performing BRM, you can attend the High Performing BRM Workshop virtually or in person at the BRM United Kingdom in Person Event on November 6-8, 2023.
About the Author
Jeff Warren is the President of Barkley Consulting Group, a leading BRM consulting firm that helps organizations develop top BRM talent and create impactful BRM programs. Jeff has over 35 years of leadership and innovation experience as an IT executive, with a focus on business and technology.
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