Empathy is a Powerful De-escalation Tool

empathy for customer service


Many people are surprised when I bring up empathy in my de-escalation workshops. They’re looking for hard-hitting tools and frameworks to help them bring down the temperature in interactions with customers. But empathy? How does this soft skill fit in?

Empathy helps you come across as a compassionate, non-judgmental listener. With customers in intense situations, empathy helps you begin the de-escalation process.

All it takes is two or three sentences, stated genuinely, to convey empathy and begin bringing down the temperature. Here are two empathy responses I wrote for clients recently.

“I know this is upsetting for you. [pause] I wish there was something we could do. We have to honor the terms of your warranty plan. There’s simply no way around this.”

“I realize it’s upsetting to hear that you’ll have to retake your exam and apply for a new license, particularly because you can’t legally operate without it. The Department of Insurance will not renew any license that has lapsed or outstanding penalties.”

Convey empathy, and you begin the de-escalation process!

Download My Empathy Statements + Practice Worksheet!


Connect with customers. Disarm anger. Improve the customer experience.



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