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DURING one of my programmes recently, the organiser asked me a rather unexpected question. “You seem to be able to engage with the participants. I have another programme provider but they seem to be rejected by the same participants. Why do you think that happens?”

Of course, I wouldn’t know how the other party has been conducting its programmes, but the organiser did share that their approach was a little authoritarian given that they’re experts in their field. They expected the participants to follow their methods closely. And when they didn’t, the programme provider would berate them, either verbally or with a negative body language.

It was as if the participants weren’t grateful for the opportunity to learn from these so-called “experts”. Needless to say, their contract wasn’t renewed due to poor feedbacks from the participants.

I smiled as an old quote from the former US President, Theodore Roosevelt, came to mind. “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I’ve always ensured that my programmes are delivered in a humble way because I realise that people seem to connect on a much deeper level when you show genuine concern. Even if we’re regarded as an expert in our field, it’s meaningless if we fail to empathise and instead, choose to gloat about how good we are.

CARING AND EMPATHISING

Taking this into the parenting context, it’s possible that similar feelings may also occur between parents and children. No one’s questioning our experience, wisdom or knowledge. But if we “rule” in an authoritarian manner, we may alienate our kids further. Dig deep and empathise with their situation instead.

Empathy is defined as “the capacity to understand or feel what another being is experiencing from within their frame of reference; that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional states, such as love.”

Once the other party sees our genuine empathy for them, they’ll know we care. That’s when they’ll listen and engage with us in a more effective manner. Don’t raise our voice to be heard. Instead, communicate with words, intonation or just body language. They’ll not only get the message but also be inspired to follow.

I’ve been practising this method in all my programmes. And it hasn’t failed me yet. In fact, at the risk of sounding boastful, my programmes are usually quite highly rated even with “difficult” participants (as measured by others). There’s no magic formula because we’re all human after all. Once someone knows how much we care, the person will readily open his heart and soul to us.

Be it clients or children, empathising and caring go a long way towards a better outcome. It’s time we stop bragging about how great we are. People don’t care about that until they know how much you care about them.

Zaid Mohamad coaches and trains parents to experience happier homes and more productive workplaces. Reach him at [email protected].

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