A bloody experience reinforced this business lesson

- July 16, 2018 3 MIN READ

I hate blood tests because I hate needles. But my last blood test reinforced a valuable business lesson, and it’s a bleeding good one for any business.

I’m not great with needles. The idea of something sharp injecting fluid into my body or taking blood out just doesn’t thrill me.

That’s not hard to understand, right? It’s not like I run out of the room screaming at the sight of a kitten video. But being afraid of needles, that’s kind of understandable?

Needles pierce and prick, and laugh wickedly as they do so.

That’s why, whenever I’m due for my routine, annual blood test, I smother the stabbing zone with numbing cream, so that I feel as little pain as possible.  

Again, understandable?

And yet, whenever I see a pathology collector, they usually say something along the lines of:

  • “We have a lot of kids who use the cream.”
  • “You don’t need numbing cream, it won’t hurt.”
  • “I see.”

None of these reactions make me feel reassured or more relaxed. I don’t want or expect a lot, the collectors are probably tired, busy and stressed, but just a few understanding words would go a long way to making the process a bit more bearable.

Last year though, I met someone who reacted quite differently to everyone else.

I was on holiday and felt unwell. I saw a doctor and he wanted me to have a blood test with the pathology collector on site.

STRAIGHT AWAY?! On site?! No numbing cream?!

I didn’t want to freak out the lovely doctor by jumping into his lap. Instead, I returned to the waiting room to be called, legs jiggling, hands wringing.

When the pathology collector, Christine, eventually called my name, I blurted, “I’ll try my best but I’m needle-phobic!”

She smiled reassuringly and said, “I completely understand. Having blood taken isn’t pleasant, but I’m going to try and make the process as easy as possible for you. I’m going to use a butterfly needle which is smaller and won’t sting as much. I’ll talk you through everything, and you’ll be out of here as soon as possible.”

I sighed so hard I nearly blew away the receptionist.

In the actual room, Christine chatted and chirped away cheerily about this and that, engaging in conversation to get my mind off her sword.

When it was vampire time, she remained relaxed, friendly and understanding, even as I looked away, clenched my teeth and made the type of noises you’d hear from a dying bat.

Guess what, I barely felt a thing, and within (what seemed like) 30 seconds, I was done! “You are amazing!” I said.

I wasn’t just referring to her blood taking, which was amazing, I was also referring to her level of reassurance, understanding, and most of all, empathy.

Despite the hundreds of humans she’s taken blood from, she was able to stand in my shoes and understand what I was going through. She didn’t even have to spend any extra time with me, I was in and out fairly quickly, but the time together was meaningful and reassuring, which ensured the best possible experience for both of us.

Empathy in business is key

Christine’s actions reinforce the importance of empathy in everyday life, and also in business.

At any point of the project journey, our clients may need a certain level of reassurance and information, and it’s in our best interest to provide it empathetically rather than grudgingly or impatiently.

If you’re not naturally empathetic, don’t worry, try the following:

  • If a client says or does something you don’t like, before rushing to annoyance, imagine that you (or someone you like/love) is in their exact situation. Stand in their shoes and imagine their feelings and thought processes. Can you see the situation from their point of view a bit more clearly now?
  • Examine your reactions, especially if you’re quick to temper.
  • If you don’t understand why people are acting a certain way or doing a particular thing, ask them. Their answer might surprise you.

Empathy is key, and it can open the door to enjoyable and amazing business relationships. It might even help you at your next blood test!

What are your thoughts on this article? Do you think empathy in business is important?