Left brain vs. right brain

Connecting With Boomers Requires Empathetic Connections, Part II

by Jim Gilmartin –

In our last post, we discussed empathy as the most important ingredient in lasting relationships. We all want to be understood by those who want to sell us something. When we think we are not understood, we erect defenses against those trying to connect with us or sell us something.

As we also previously discussed, empathy is not the same as sympathy. You’ll come across Baby Boomer prospects with conditions that might make you feel sorry for them. Moreover, they’ll know it when you do. Your body language will give you away. As we age, reading body language improves. In the last post, we shared some approaches that will help you to replace sympathy with empathy.

The “Right Brain” Approach

We recommend approaching the Baby Boomer customer using an understanding that the right brain is not into logic and reasoning like the left-brain is. It’s more into emotions and intuition. It’s particularly into relationships. When your customer gets warm fuzzy feelings about you, their right brain is kicking out those feelings. However, reasoning and emotions are sometimes like oil and water. As you know, oil and water don’t mix. Have you ever noticed that when someone is being very emotional that they are resistant to reasoning?

Actually, oil and water will mix when you add soap. The soap that allows reasoning and emotions to mix is trust. The right brain willingly enters into relationships only when it trusts them to be safe. Trust can be reinforced by reasoned analysis, but it cannot be formed by reasoned analysis. Trust is a gut feeling that a relationship will work and a belief that you have empathy for the Baby Boomer customer’s needs.

The Limbic System

Image: “Limbic System”, Wikipedia

Trust begins to form outside the realms of consciousness in the limbic system in the midbrain. That’s where flight or fight responses originate in a little almond-shaped organ called the amygdala. The amygdala plays a big role in the formation of the first impression’s generation of fight or flight responses. It works super-fast in sizing up a situation or another person – much quicker than we can do it with our conscious mind.

And, once a Baby Boomer’s conscious mind becomes aware of how the amygdala sizes up another person – say you – it can take flight (resist you), fight (argue with you) or become a collaborator with you in meeting her needs. Now her conscious mind is receptive to reasoned propositions. Her right brain comfort with entering into a relationship with you has opened up the doorway to her analytical, reasoning left-brain. You may now proceed to counsel her, though you must avoid the appearance of lecturing or dictating to her. Do that and you may compromise her need for autonomy and control and offend her dignity.

Rather than bulldozing your way through a Baby Boomer customer’s psyche, prompt him to provide cues for guiding your sales presentation. Act like a docents – tour guides who know the answers but depend on tourists to help shape their presentations. Each group on a tour will have its own personality, with questions varying.

The best docents avoid sounding like their presentations are 100% scripted by somewhat tailoring their presentations to their groups. Just like you, they have a core presentation they are supposed to deliver, but they personalize their presentations by responding to cues issued by tourists in a given group. Like docents, listening will improve your empathy quotient and increase your closing rate.

Finally, please visit this page to check out your “Empathy Quotient.” However, remember, no one empathy test is perfect. They all tend to indicate a general bias, not an absolute personality trait. Don’t be discouraged by a lower score. Your score can be affected by how you feel at the time of the test or by other factors. Whatever your score, you can improve it by practice. With a strong empathy quotient, you can go far in sales to Baby Boomers.

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