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Empathy – Your Most Profitable Skill

December 20, 2013

ChristmasWas in an office about a month ago, shortly before Thanksgiving, and one of the workers in the reception area was new. As I was waiting in the lobby, I overheard a conversation she was having with another employee about how to interact with customers.

The new employee asked, “Can we say ‘Merry Christmas’ here?”

“I haven’t heard that we can’t,” said the other.

“Good! They wouldn’t let me do that at Wal-Mart. It was ‘Happy Holidays’ there. It’s only ‘Happy Holidays’ until Thanksgiving. After that, it’s ‘Merry Christmas.’”

Hey, I’m in Nashville — the buckle of the Bible Belt. We have big ass highway billboards that say, “It’s not Happy Holidays!! It’s Merry Christmas!!” And some guy at the post office once got pissed at me when I told him to “have a great holiday.”

Nothing surprises me…

What Would a Christian Do?

Every year, when talk of the “War on Christmas” comes around and people everywhere get their panties in a wad over the smallest things, such as schools calling the break between semesters “Winter Break” instead of “Christmas Break,” I think about an experience I had a couple of years ago with a well-known and very successful Christian musician.

I had a meeting with him just before the new year. When we were done, he shook my hand and very warmly told me, “David, I hope you have a happy holiday and a great new year.”

I can still picture his enthusiasm.

The guy didn’t know me — not in that way. We had a business relationship, not a personal one, outside from a little small talk now and then.

Still, he didn’t assume anything.

And I thought to myself, “This is so refreshing.”

Even though he gets paid to deliver a Christian message via his music and it would have been totally understandable had he said goodbye with “Merry Christmas” attached, he didn’t go there, because it might have been one-sided. And he didn’t feel the need add a political or social statement.

Instead, he said something upon which we can all agree — have a happy holiday and a great new year.

You Are Not Your Customer

Even if your business is a church, not all your customers are going to agree with you when it comes to religion.

Even if your business is a vegan restaurant, not all your customers are going to agree with you on eating animal products.

Even if your business is a gun show, not all your customers are going to agree with you on gun control.

Not everybody thinks like you, so don’t assume that to be the case. It’s great for you to be yourself and let your personality come through in your business, but don’t start a war against customers who don’t think like you do — that would be shortsighted and stupid.

Even customers who don’t think like you do still deserve the benefit of the products and services you offer. And why not serve them? That’s your job — not forcing your beliefs on them.

I hope you have an enjoyable winter holiday, which includes the most enjoyable traditions of the religious or secular practices of your choice.

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Every Friday, I give tips on how to build the foundation needed to have a successful business and platformSee other posts in this series here and, if you have a request for me to cover something specific, let me know via Twitter.

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