THE POWER OF EMPATHY

the-power-of-empathy My husband and I are trying to get pregnant. We began this journey about a year ago and had the blessing of experiencing 12 weeks of pregnancy. Our first ultrasound showed that our baby stopped developing at 6 weeks and that I had what they called a blighted ovum or a missed miscarriage.

Honestly, we're doing ok. It was hard at first and I don't think I'll ever fully recover from losing our baby, but it doesn't scare me to talk about it any more. I kept it a secret for so long that when I finally did share it, I felt relieved and more healed than ever before.

The point I bring this up is to not scare you, sadden you or shock you - although I realize this subject tends to sometimes accomplish all three - I bring this up to share with you my experience with a doctor a few months ago and what I learned about empathy through the experience.

New to Nashville I searched for a OB/GYN that seemed to have the traits I was looking for not to mention they accepted my insurance. I made an appointment because it had been almost 5 months since we started trying again and nothing was happening. I was afraid there might be something wrong down there since the surgery. I felt confused, uneducated and had a lot of questions that I wanted a professional to answer (not the internet). 

There I was in her private office, she was sitting behind her desk, I in a chair on the other side, being told I was trying too hard, that nothing was wrong and to not expect that every time we try, to have success like we did the first time (we got pregnant the first time we started trying last year).

I felt like I was sitting at the principles desk being lectured, like I was a child who should know better. I truly believe I was a waste of her time and I was just another one of those clients that she could care less about. 

Now, I realize there are a lot of woman like me and that it might be easy for her to categorize me. But that's not the point. My point is she lacked empathy.

Empathy is the capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by others. 

Not for a split second did I feel she put herself in my shoes. She was cold and made me feel terrible about tracking my ovulation and that I must stop trying so hard.

I left that office feeling alone, upset and wishing I had never went in to see her. But the one thing I did learn from this experience was that empathy truly is very powerful and is she would've applied some to her practice I'd bet I'd feel a whole lot better about the entire thing.

So today I want to share with you 3 tips on how to bring empathy to your business so that we can improve our relationships and experiences in business.  

1. Put yourself in their shoes: No really, try to feel what they're feeling. Maybe you're a invitation designer for a wedding and your Bride is acting a bit crazy. Truth is she might not be crazy at all, she might just simply be stressed. Maybe her in-laws are getting to her, maybe it's the dwindling  budget, maybe it's the fact that she has a full-time job and almost no time for planning. Whatever it is, try to be empathetic. The last thing you want to do is have your client regretting they ever hired you.  

2. Meet Face-to-Face: Nothing says I care more than a face-to-face conversation. Phone calls don't cut it and texts are out of the questions. Anytime I am hired for a project that lasts longer than a few weeks, I make it a requirement to meet over Skype or in person. This has helped me develop some amazing relationships with my clients. Whether your clients live on the other side of the country or in your city, make time to meet them, develop a relationship with them, listen to them and get to know them. Most times when people are hiring you, they're not just interested in your service or product, but they're interested in a relationship with you. So give them the time of day and schedule that coffee meeting or Skype chat. And don't be afraid to meet multiple times face-to-face. Anytime I feel like my client and I are not communicating properly, I schedule a Skype or in person meeting to go over what were trying to say. This eliminates any stress and gets our ideas clarified, not to mention it deepens our relationship and creative chemistry.

3. Define & educate your clients on how your process works: Grab a stack of post-it notes or a pad of paper and jot down all of the steps of your process. If you're using post-it notes, use one sheet per step. For example, your first step might be receiving the an email from them, second step would respond to the email with a breakdown or pricing and details, third step might be scheduling a Skype chat, and so on. Organize the steps into a timeline, outlining your project from start to finish,  including any alternative paths too. Look for patterns that emerge and ways you might improve the steps. Create ways that might help your client feel more joyous and relaxed from beginning to end. Type it out, create a pdf of it, insert it in your contract, create a fun comic-like illustration that shows each step or send a welcome packet that clearly outlines what they can expect and when. Whatever it takes, clearly outline your process ands share it with them. They will feel grateful they hired you and excited for each step.

Do you have an experience you want to share that lacked empathy? Or perhaps you have a great idea on how to implement empathy into our business? Share your thoughts in the comments below and receive a response from me.

MY 10 SECRETS

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A few months back when I was planning to launch my blog, I realized one of the key steps to updating my brand was to get some updated head shots/photos of myself. Because I have a nice camera and my husband has a good eye, I asked him to take them for me. While we were at it, I took some of him too for his new blog and brand we worked together on.

Naturally, I spent a few minutes posing in front of the mirror attempting to find the best angle/pose/smile/stand to make before the shoot. I was prepared to look a certain way, the way I thought would look nice and professional. I looked at several other creatives head shots and kept those in mind for the shoot.

All of that posing and practice went out the window when my husband started to take the photos. He made me laugh, loosen up and relax. But most of all, he allowed me to show my true self, the side of me that sometimes you don't hear about or see. The side of me that I am sometimes afraid to share. 

Recently I participated in a "share your secrets" Facebook post. Some of you may have heard of it, or even saw my "secrets" on my Facebook page. The way the challenge goes is if you read someones "secrets" on Facebook and comment on their post asking for a number, the person who posted the secrets would roll the dice and give you a random number. That number determines the amount of secrets you share.

So, I did exactly that (but unknowingly). I read one of my friends posts - her secrets. It was so touching and beautiful that I commented on it. She then replied with a number and said if I wanted to participate, I could. I immediately thought, no way. I am not going to share my secrets with Facebook. I am too private for that.

Then a few days later, her husband, another friend of mine, bared his secrets too. Just like his wives, they were moving and inspiring me to share mine.

I have secrets. Secrets I have been afraid to share with you because I thought I might lose your respect, I might offend you or that I might even lose potential business. 

I shared my 10 secrets on Facebook and had some incredibly supportive, loving and heartfelt responses. The entire day I checked my Facebook at least a hundred times. I received messages from old friends, woman, and family who applauded me and thanked me for my bravery, honesty and for sharing my true self. I was overwhelmed with love, joy and gratitude and felt a weight lift off of me.

Sharing my secrets helped heal me a little more. 

With the hope that you'll still be here after you know my secrets and with the faith that if I be myself and share even the hard stuff that good thing will come. So here are my 10 secrets:

  1.  After 8 months of RCIA I was baptized in 2011, only a few months before I married my darling Nicholas Bullock. Getting baptized was a moment that I was so afraid of and hated the idea of getting water poured on top of me in front of the entire Easter Mass. When the day came to get baptized, I was surprised at how lucky and grateful I felt to be the only one at the church that day to receive such an amazing honor.
  2. My dad passed away when I was too little to remember him. Most days I wear a locket around my neck with a photo of him and my deceased grandpa's (his father) within it. Sometimes I wonder what it would've felt like to have him here.
  3. This spring I was pregnant for 12 weeks. At my first exam (at 12 weeks), I learned the baby stopped developing (at 6 weeks) and I, in fact, had what they called a "missed miscarriage". A missed miscarriage is when the baby no longer is alive, but you still continue to grow and experience symptoms of a normal pregnancy. I was giving a choice to surgically remove the baby, wait for it to naturally expel, or take drugs to force out of my body. I chose to have the baby removed surgically. It's been several months since that day and I never really knew how to share it with everyone till now. There is so much to say about it and I plan to share more about it in someway. Nick and I believe our baby was a boy, so we've named him Julien, whom I pray to often.
  4. I'm one of four siblings (3rd one down). My family calls me by a nickname my [step] dad proclaimed, Dippy. FYI Ive always called my step dad "dad". I've included the step to maintain clarity of who I'm speaking of.
  5. When I was a teen, I was the last one out of my families home when it caught on fire after our furnace blew up. My bedroom was the closest to the furnace, but I had my headphones on and my door locked. My [step] dad somehow got my attention and got me out of the house before I could get hurt. Thanks Brian Keefer!
  6. I've been playing softball for nearly 20 years. When I was a teen, I was warming up to bat and was caught in the face with our home run hitters bat. Only a minor fracture under the eye was a result.
  7. As my friend Tom mentioned in his "secrets", I too was uncertain I'd ever get married. Then I met Nick and he changed everything.
  8. I've always wanted to sing and play music in a band and had the opportunity to do a little of that with some pretty talented ladies PurpleHenry IshMarie ButcherAmanda Marie and Erin. I have some ideas and plan to write and perform my music someday and share my recordings too (produced and engineered by Nick of course).
  9. I believe that every one of my dreams and goals will come true.
  10. I was a hairstylist for 13 years until I finally made the leap to entrepreneurship. Both my mom and dad were business owners, so I had some great role models.