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3 min read

Cultivating Professional Empathy with Storytelling

Cultivating Professional Empathy with Storytelling

Entering into business relationships, like all relationships, requires understanding. Different relationships have different understandings, and where business is conducted, even where the nature of business is transactional, developing an understanding of another person's needs is critical to making a sale. Where sales relationships are inherently transactional, it is even more important to develop an understanding so that prospect challenges do not feel like commodities.

One way to relate to another person in a business setting without appearing inauthentic or overly personal is by sharing stories. Cultivating professional empathy or understanding through storytelling can advance deals and deliver more value to prospects.

What is the Difference?

Empathy vs. Professional Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person's feelings. In personal relationships, this often involves vulnerability and transparency, whereas in professional relationships, it is more nuanced and tailored to maintain appropriate boundaries. 

Professional empathy is about understanding the needs, concerns, and emotions of clients, colleagues, or teams while keeping interactions at a respectful level. It involves meeting individuals where they are and focusing on creating a supportive and understanding environment. In a sales setting, showing professional empathy helps teams or individuals show prospects that they are listening and understanding an organization's inefficiencies or lack of clarity. When this understanding is achieved, a level of trust is achieved between parties, and prospects are more likely to be ready to receive solutions that products or services offer. 

How to Build Connection

Stories that Drive Emotion and Empathy

Storytelling is a great way to show professional empathy and drive emotional responses that help prospects adopt solutions. In a professional setting, the key is to choose stories that resonate on a universal level. Where audiences are global and cultural and organizational differences exist, finding commonalities and drawing associations can connect a meeting and foster collaboration. Here are some steps to build connection through Storytelling:

  1. Start with Empathy Towards a Persona: Understand your audience's shared challenges and experiences. For example, a common challenge CSMs face is being seen as strategic advisors rather than just technical support. Are you experiencing that, too? By opening with an industry insight, you can show empathy in a relatable and impactful way.

  2. Transition to Empathy for the Individual: As the relationship progresses, tailor your stories to individuals' specific experiences and comfort levels. This personal touch can deepen the connection without breaching professional boundaries.

  3. Select Universally Relatable Stories: Choose stories likely to resonate with a broad audience. Sometimes, we will be telling stories to multiple people simultaneously, so we want to avoid getting too deep into personal emotions, but we still want to aim to evoke a shared understanding or common experience.

  4. Connect Emotionally: Make sure that your story is genuine. Authenticity can drive an emotional response that fosters trust and connection. 

Choosing The Right Story For The Right Moment


Professional Empathy 

Competition, Authenticity, and Receptiveness 

According to Salesforce, nearly 90% of buyers say the company's experience matters as much as products or services. This highlights a significant point: people want to do business with people. It's not just about the quality or functionality; it's about the human connection and overall experience the client receives. When you show empathy and aim to create a positive experience, you build trust and loyalty. 

"Humans make decisions emotionally and then justify them rationally."

-Chad Wilson | VP of Operations

Be aware, though, that this is a fine line to tread. Appearing too personal too soon can lead to discomfort and potentially harm the professional relationship. It's important to balance empathy with professionalism. Storytelling creates space or a boundary from appearing too personal. If you build a story on a universal theme that shows the organizational objective they shared with you, you show that you deeply understand their challenge. Being aware of your audience and their receptiveness to a story, then aligning the right story at the proper moment can bring an audience into an agreement, and you may proceed with sharing a solution. 

How to Do it Better


Many sales methodologies and training recognize the power of storytelling and building professional relationships through empathy. Our competitive edge lies in how these stories are crafted and delivered. Showing professional empathy in business interactions can make you stand out from competitors who might appear insincere by bypassing client challenges to offer a solution.

Our Storytelling2Win program teaches storytelling techniques that help participants build authentic and reusable stories that can be implemented into daily life. Stories are generated from personal experiences and then connected to the client's organizational objective. This ensures that your stories are not only engaging but also relevant and impactful.

This approach helps you strategically navigate sharing personal stories in a professional setting. We focus on building connections through relatable, universally resonant stories while maintaining professional boundaries. The result is more meaningful client engagements and a higher likelihood of a buy in from your audience to your solution. 

Storytelling Business Workshop

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