Why Compassion Pays Big

If you watch enough reality TV, political debates or just follow the lead stories in the news – you come to believe that hate sells. You would be right. Hate like violence is fascinating to watch, from a distance.

Take crime shows. You wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a CSI crime scene, but it sure is fascinating to watch murder and violence on TV.

Scathing, scorched earth rhetoric accompanied by down and dirty destruction is absolutely compelling, as long as you’re not the one being ripped or ripped off.

Case in point: house inspector Mike Holmes’ HGTV show. He goes in to a damaged home and rips apart the reputation of the first house inspector. The first guy must have been a total idiot or worse, because Mike finds mold, water damage and assorted critters living among the debris behind the walls of homes sold to the duped or dim buyers. You’re awash with shock and misery about dangerous wiring and icy cold basements and heartened when Mike demolishes someone else’s handiwork.

In business, we’re just as fascinated by the cutthroat, anything-for-another-dollar mentality.

You couldn’t get better ratings for saying, “You’re fired!” than The Apprentice’s Donald Trump.

Consider why the crowd cheered when Republican candidate Willard Mitt Romney declared, “I like being able to fire people!” Hint: they must have secure employment at someone else’s company.

Or how HP’s Meg Whitman filled shareholders with hope, with one stunning firing of 27,000 people!

Abject disregard for people’s feeling or wellbeing is fascinating. The Kardashians make a fine living with exactly that.

But don’t forget – that ruthless disregard is only compelling if you are separated from it by a screen or a better job offer. Then enjoy.

Compassion – The New Business Model

In a new book, Out of Character: Surprising Truths About the Liar, Cheat, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in All of Us, social psychologist David DeSteno details a number of studies that show people will act generously when they are proximate to someone who is acting with compassion>. If they feel some attempt to find common ground – even with someone who otherwise cheats – they will act with compassion toward them.

Yes. People will be forthcoming with their money, their time, their information and more, if you show them compassion for them. Think about that the next time you interview for a job, pitch a new client, chat up an investor or ask anyone for anything you need.

How about showing up prepared to be compassionate as well as articulate?

Sure there are tricks that subliminally telegraph commonality. You can breathe in the same rhythm they do and mirror their body positions. You can assume their gestures and even echo their voice intonation or speech pattern.

But I like it old school.

If I meet you, I like finding common ground with you. I’m sure that as humans we are fundamentally alike, if I get the time to get to know you. I like hearing your stories and yes, even feeling your pain. I want to understand your real concerns, including what you fear will happen next if you don’t solve a problem gnawing at you.

It’s only then that I can figure out if I can help you, and by then if we like each other.

Remember: people buy from people. It’s not the genius solution that makes buyers buy. It’s the show of compassion and the feeling of common ground that ignite the trust that must be in place before anyone signs a contract and wire transfers the payment to your account.