Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can speak about communication skills, empathy and compassion at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of the above video is included below.


Full Video Transcript:

Hi and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to talk about empathy and compassion. So let me start with some stereotypes. I’m sure some of you will probably disagree with me on this but the stereotype is that men want to solve problems, women want to talk about problems – two very different approaches. Now, again, if you disagree that’s fine. I respect that there are differences. Also, if you’re in a situation where it’s the reverse or if it’s two guys in a relationship whether it’s romantic or not, or two women, it’s fine. You can convert it to whatever you want. But for the purposes of this video, I’m going to stick with these stereotypes just to make it easier for me to explain the concept that I’m trying to get across here. So men want to solve problems and women want to talk about their problems.

Now, look, if a woman has a problem, something that’s frustrating her—now I’m going to assume for a moment that you’re a man—and you just want to go in there and solve the problem right away, let’s say she tells you what’s going on and you have a solution for her problem in five minutes, you think you’ve done something great. You think that you just solved her problem in five minutes. This is your value. Meanwhile, that is the opposite of what she wanted, because what you’ve done is you’ve dismissed her problem as being insignificant. You solved it in five minutes. This was nothing. This wasn’t a problem at all.

Meanwhile, she’s frustrated. That’s the bottom line – she’s frustrated. She’s angry. She wants to feel like she has a right to be angry. She has a right to feel frustrated. And when you just solved the problem in five minutes, you’ve dismissed the problem entirely, like that wasn’t a problem. So you’ve almost insulted her by saying, “You shouldn’t be frustrated about this. Here’s the solution.” Two minutes later, you’re done. That’s not what she wanted. What she wanted was to feel validated that she is in a bad situation. Something went wrong. Something is frustrating her and she’s a reasonable person – she has a right to be frustrated.

So what does she really want? She wants you to say, “I get it. Me too. I understand. I’ve felt that way myself. I was in this similar situation and I felt just the way you feel.” Once you say that, then you’ve validated her. “Yes, you have a right to be frustrated. I have felt frustrated too. I know what that feels like.” Now we can move on to solving the problem.

But solving the problem is step two; step one is validating that the problem exists in the first place. She wants you to walk in the mud with her. The mud is the problem. Don’t just pull her out of the mud and say the mud was never there. You’ve got to walk through the mud with her and say, “Yes, this is mud. It’s bad. I get it. It’s frustrating. I would hate that too. I would feel the same way. I have felt the same way in the past, in this other situation which is similar to the situation you’re in right now.” Now all of a sudden she’s like, “Okay, I’m not weird. I’m not a weirdo. I’m not weak because I feel frustrated. I’m human and I’m allowed to feel frustrated in this situation. Now I’m ready to try and solve the problem.”

Now, look, some people don’t think this way. And frankly, I clearly think this way. I mean, this is my native skill set. When someone has a problem, my first instinct is to say, “Yeah, I get it. I understand,” and maybe by watching my videos you already know that about me. And I’ll tell you, as a professional speaker—it’s what I do—it helps me in my career because when I speak in front of people I have a natural instinct that wants to understand their issues. Like when I stand in front of people, I always try to say, “Look, I get it.” Number one, I have to do the research to find out what the issues actually are, and then I immediately look into my history and think, “Now, what have I done that’s similar? Have I felt that way? What’s that situation like?” And if I’ve been in a situation like that then it’s easy, but if I haven’t then I have to do some research, but either way I try really hard to communicate that first to say, “I understand this problem. This is a big problem. It’s not a small problem. I would be very frustrated in this same situation.”

Now, having said that, how can we turn the corner? How can we make improvements or maybe stop this problem from happening the same way in the future or to the same degree or severity in the future? If you say the right thing first, if you validate the problem’s existence in the beginning, the solution is going to be that much easier to arrive at and they’re going to be more open to hearing your solution.

Now, as I said a second ago, some people just can’t think this way, and I’m always amazed, in my life I’ve met people, I’ve tried to explain this to people so many times and there are some people that I meet that just immediately they get it and we communicate the same way and we’re fast friends quite often and we get it, we understand, we communicate the same way, but there are other people that I’ve met, many of them guys but even some of them girls, women, that just don’t think this way. They don’t even consider like that same mindset to be like, “Yeah, I understand. I felt that way before.” They haven’t felt that way before. A lot of people, they just view everything as either not a problem or, if it’s a problem, there is like an external simple solution and it’s over. They don’t think about validating the problem or feeling like they would never doubt their right to be frustrated. They just don’t think that way.

And the other part of the advice in this video is that if you’re with someone like that and you want them to understand, you can get them to watch this video or you can try and explain this to them on your own, but there’s a good chance they’re just not going to get it. And there’s nothing wrong with them. They have a right to be that way. And some of those people can be very effective, great CEOs, great salespeople, very social and gregarious in many cases. So they’re not bad people, but they don’t think this way and you can’t convert one to the other, unfortunately. Either way, maybe you’re watching the video and you understand this and you wish your partner was more empathetic and compassionate with you, or maybe your partner told you to watch this video and wants you to be more empathetic and compassionate. Try it. Try it and hopefully my description will help you understand the situation a little bit better and, hopefully, communicate better as a result.

Thanks for watching this video. My name is Patrick, reminding you as always to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.

Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.