How to Use Empathy in Negotiations

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Psychologically, empathy is the ability to feel what another person feels if he were in the same situation experienced by her, that is, try looking in an objective and rational way which feels the other to try to understand feelings and emotions.

Empathy is basically feel with the person. And it is a powerful force that can decide a negotiation.

What is the difference between empathy and sympathy?

Empathy brings connection while sympathy drift off. The four main features of empathy are:

  • making perspective – ie the ability to see the perspective of others as truth;
  • not judge;
  • recognize emotions in others;
  • able to pass this information, communicate.

Also, empathy is a vulnerable choice, since, to connect with what another feels, a person needs to connect with something in yourself that you know that feeling.

Almost never an empathetic response begins with “at least”. For example, if you say “I lost a baby” and the other person responds, “at least you know you can get pregnant,” that person is not being empathetic. It is not connecting with the feeling that exists within their sentence and placing on your side.

When using empathy, even not having answer, only to listen and put yourself in the person a connection is formed.

And I, I can be empathetic?

Empathy is the link that unites us as a society. Neuroscience has proven that we are all empathic by nature, we are made to live in structured societies.

We are born with structures, processes and brain connections that exist so that we can connect and express empathy.

I ask you to imagine a role of little cut in the skin of his hand. Now imagine a lemon drop falls well this court. I bet you, the reader, a little twisted his facial expression while reading it. This is a clear demonstration that we are empathetic.

The same happens when we yawn to see someone yawn. It is because we can imitate that we can be empathetic. This is caused by the mirror neuron system, which have the play function in our brains anything we see on the other. Since an action to an emotion.

Moreover, neuroscience has shown that we can exercise empathy. Our brain is plastic, it adapts to any stimulus that we do. It can create new neural pathways, that is, you can make every day empathy is a more natural process and use this to your advantage in negotiations.

Empathy in talks

And after all, what is the importance of being empathetic? First, empathy helps us to have more meaningful relationships with the people around us, from friends to potential customers. Also, empathy is considered one of the core competencies of the future leadership, since it helps to look at a problem from several different points of view.

In negotiations, empathy can be considered a very effective weapon. When you stand on the side of the person, she feels in a more comfortable position, away from strong emotions, where she would not listen to you and understand more clearly that both are looking for the best deal.

Moreover, this empathic position is well regarded by the other side, which improves the relationship between prospect and salesperson. A good relationship is the key to good business.

But beware: be empathetic does not mean agree with their prospect. It is important to remain firm and assertive, but at the same time to listen and seek to understand the pain of the other. You do not need to have the same view as the other person to be able to understand it.

How to put into practice empathy in negotiations

We know that using empathy at all times is not easy, but with practice and paying attention to a few points, as described below, it becomes more and more natural.

Tip 1: Focus your attention on listening

As in any negotiation, it is important to prepare. Empathy is when we hear the prospect’s questions carefully, instead of using that time to think of the possible answers. Decrease your pace, take the time to listen genuinely speech of another person. Listening will help you expand your own review.

The important thing is to be completely there, present, listening. What others say is important to them and to you too, since, as best understood the situation, the easier it is resolved together.

Tip 2: After listening, ask

Ask shows that his attention was focused on what the other was talking about, shows interest in better understanding of the problems of the other. Try to understand the emotional state and the motivations behind the other person’s responses.

Ask with the curiosity of someone who wants to put the other side on the way to solving these problems. Curiosity about the other is an important step to expand their empathy.

Tip 3: Confirm your understanding

One of the best ways to confirm that you understand the information correctly and completely is to paraphrase the prospect.

Put what he said in his words shows that you listened and took interest on it.

Tip 4: Remember, empathy does not mean to solve other problems

When we think the best way to be empathetic is to give advice, we are mistaken. If they need advice, she will ask you, since it is already in a comfortable position after being heard and understood.

The fact to understand, be interested, listen to the prospect’s problem with attention already greatly improves interpersonal relationships.


Empathy is one of the pillars of emotional intelligence and use it as a way to improve relationships in negotiations is essential. Taking time to observe and understand the other is the first step to develop their empathy.

Applying empathy is possible to better understand the behavior of people and their needs. Consequently, a trust is established, resulting in a situation much more likely to succeed in a negotiation for both parties!