The Art Of Subtlety and Importance of Real Empathy in Community Building

One topic I spend time on in my new book is the importance of developing advanced community skills at the micro-level.

Here’s an example. Many people can easily grasp simple community-building principles like:

  • People want to feel valued and important.
  • People want to know they can make unique contributions.
  • People want to feel like they’re making progress.
  • People want to feel rewarded for their contributions.

But far fewer can understand the importance of authenticity and subtlety in delivering on these principles.

I’ve met far too many community professionals who send messages to members or reply to members with text like:

“As one of our most valued and community members, I’d love to invite you to …”

“I’m reaching out to you as one of the most important members of our community…”

“I’ve noticed your superpower is in [x], can you do more of [x] in the community?”

“If you do [x], you will become recognised as a top member of the community”

“Congrats on making 5 contributions, here’s your ‘rapid progress’ badge”

They later seem confused when these messages fail to achieve the desired impact.

This is the difference between skill and knowledge. Knowledge is knowing the principles, skill is the ability to apply them.

The skill which needs to be nurtured (quickly) here is empathy. This empathy which is exemplified by subtly delivering and hinting at the benefits members want instead of blasting them in someone’s face.

For example, if you wanted your colleague to feel important, would you suddenly turn to her and say “Hey, you’re really important”?

Hopefully not! It would be inauthentic (and weird).

If you’re smart, you might turn to her and say:

“hey, that [x] you recommended really helped.

No-one else here even seemed to know about it.

Would you mind if I reached out to you if I have any other challenges with [x]? Not many people seem to have the experience you do”

You can see the difference. One is genuine, authentic, and will have the intended impact. It appreciates the context, environment, and relationship between you. The other is blasting a weird message in someone’s face.

If your messages aren’t having their desired impact, you might need to work more on your empathy. Or buying my new book might help.

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