How to Write with Empathy

Me (calling to cancel one of my mother’s policies): “Yes, I’m calling to cancel this policy. My mother passed away.”

Representative: “So she’s dead?”

Me (cringing a bit): “Yes.”

Rep: “Is there anyone else on this policy?”

Me: “My father, but he also passed away last year.”

Rep: “So he’s dead, too? They’re both dead?”

😳

Yes, this was an actual conversation.

Granted, the other person was outside the U.S., maybe where the word “dead” was not as jarring to me as it was to him.

Still. I’m using it to illustrate what it means to write with empathy.

This was not it.

In copywriting, it’s important to remind people of their pain before you offer a solution.

It's a reminder of why they’re on your web page or receiving your email. People only take action when they have a reason to.

But jabbing that pain repeatedly without relief (as in that convo) does little other than upset the other person. And make them dislike you enormously.

So here are a few ways to show empathy in copy (or in an actual conversation) that lets that person know you understand their situation:

“You’re in a tough spot.”
“I understand what you’re going through.”
“That sounds frustrating / upsetting.”
“I’d be upset, too.”
“That can make you feel helpless.”
“I feel for you.”

Obviously, words alone aren’t enough.

This requires truly understanding of what your buyer is going through... What's the thing that made them contact you in the first place?

What else could you say to let a person know you hear them?

Other LinkedIn posts this past week include:

"'I don't like it'" is not a reason to throw marketing copy in the trash

How to Use Tone and Voice in Your Copy

6 Ways You Turn Off Your Website Visitors

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