Empathy matters

Let me begin by confessing that I’m a bit of an idiot sometimes…

Long story short, I had an iPhone from Verizon that ran out of contract. I found a new carrier that wouldn’t lock me into a 2 year contract. If you know anything about people born after 1978, you know that we don’t really like anyone to tie us down. Oh, and it’s roughly 1/2 price from what Big Red was charging me.

verizonAs a part of the switch, I ordered a new SIM card, popped it in, and then got an error message that this card wouldn’t work because my carrier had to unlock the phone. No problem, right? The phone was paid for.

When that happened, it ported my number from Verizon as if the SIM card worked. Because it didn’t work, I now have a service with a new carrier but no phone that will allow me to use it. That’s when I called Verizon…

“We don’t do that,” the customer service agent said, “we only unlock it if you’re going overseas and want to get a carrier over there.”

Funny thing is, the other carriers will unlock an iPhone, but Verizon says they won’t. Hmmmm…

What emotions do you think I felt?

Yep, all of those. It’s been a few days now (without a cell phone – man I’m in the stone ages) and I’ve had time for my lizard brain to subside and my adult brain kick in. It got me to thinking about empathy.

You see, before this, I wouldn’t have thought much about a company basically refusing to release something that I gave them hard earned money for. Heck, Wouldn’t have crossed my mind because that would be practically stealing! Not so anymore.

Unfortunately, I had to experience first hand the experience of dealing with a company policy that makes me feel like I’m dealing with a thief, or at the very least, a company who doesn’t care even a little bit about me as a customer.

This, however, is not Empathy, it’s Sympathy. Sympathy is feeling the same thing as someone else because you’ve felt it. Empathy is understanding that feeling without ever having necessarily felt that yourself.

I do not have enough empathy. In my job working with successful corporate leaders, I find that my problem is a common one. That’s no excuse; I need more.

Ask yourself, do I empathize? Can I understand and anticipate the way people feel, even if I don’t feel the same way? If you’re a leader, you should probably ask a series of questions like this:

What are we doing that makes people angry? Sad? Frustrated? Feel less important?

I’ll bet that there are great people at Verizon. I’ll bet that some of them can sympathize with my situation. It appears that the problem is that the leaders of that particular company have an Empathy gap. They only see things in terms of dollars and cents and haven’t been able to see what their customer is experiencing. That’s a shame.

Puppy empathySo thanks, Verizon, for helping me stop a minute and think. I am trying to “Make progress every day.”

What about you? Do you have empathy? If so, we need to talk. I have to get better at this if I’m going to serve the way I need to serve. Let’s connect!



That’s what I just experienced. I’ve had my iPad for exactly 1 week. I love my iPad. I need my iPad. I know iPads are expensive so I have mine in a protective hardshell case.

As I’m flipping it open this morning, the case ever so gracefully allows the iPad to slide out and fall onto the ground, bumping the corner of it. I’m not worried…it fell like 12 inches…then I pick it up…

Panic? Maybe that’s not strong enough…

I picked it up, turned it on and…yep, the green screen!

To say that my lizard brain kicked in would be an understatement. I guess that’s what the first cavemen felt when he woke up after falling asleep accidentally and realizing that he let the first fire in history of mankind go out.

So what did I do?

Fortunately, I have access to millions of people in my network, some of whom have experienced this problem before.

I jumped on Google (thank God for Google!!) and found a forum where people were talking about how to solve it.

Collaboration is awesome! A group of people with made up screen names listing out things to try with my $400 goof.

Saying this out loud sounds ridiculous, but in fact, it worked! Collaboration provided an answer I would’ve had no chance at getting even 10-12 years ago.

What was the answer? Smacking the iPad on a hard surface.

Yes. I smacked my 1 week old iPad on a granite counter top on the recommendation of somebody I’ve never met using a made up name giving advice to people they would never meet and had zero responsibility to.

Thanks to LaxMan25, I’m typing this out on my iPad with a clear screen.

How do you use collaboration at work? Do you trust strangers on the internet more than your co-workers? Your boss? The people who work for you?

I hope I trust them at least enough to smack my $400 item on a hard surface if they suggest it…