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empathy training


What kind of exercises should I use to teach a group of salesman ( in a very practical way) what empathy is and how to practice it? Any suggestions?Thank you!

11 Responses

  1. empathy

    Hi Naomi

    Give them a scenario where they are the customer for a purchase that they are likely to actually make in real life, ideally something that is in a similar arena to the product/service that they sell……this will make them think like a customer which is the first part of getting them empathising


  2. Empathy Training

    Hi Naomi

    Empathy is one of the pillars of emotional intelligence.  Perhaps you could send your salesmen on EQ (EI) training?

    A ‘quick fix’ would be to get them always to put themselves in the other person’s shoes, and treat others as they would wish to be treated.

    Good luck!


  3. Books

    Hi Naomi

    Here are some books that cover Emotional Intelligence and are free download.


    If you want the paid for questionnaire type books Hay Group are very good.

    If you are introducing this to a group of Salesman I would keep it as real as possible. Theres a really good NLP model that springs to mind…

    Personality Map

    What is their VISION (future, spiritual, familly)

    What is their IDENTITY (esteem, self image)

    What are their BELIEFS / VALUES (motivation)

    What are their BEHAVIOUR styles? (visible, audible, traits etc)

    How does ENVIRONMENT affect them (people, places etc)


    Create a questionnaire (personality map) so each Salesman can identify who "they" are working alone with a handout.

    Then, in pairs get them to sell real products to each other.

    In the wash up you then examine if the seller paid any respects to each individuals personality map.

    The chances are that they missed some vital part of the buyers personality, therefore missing out on a sale because of lack of empathy.

  4. What kind of Empathy?

    Hi Naomi,

    as a sales & leadership specialist, I think it’s an excellent idea that pays dividends when done well.

    I guess you need to be clear on which kind of empathy you’re most interested in. Daniel Goleman is your guy for this, (Emotional Intelligence, as mentioned).

    Here’s some links to him writing / taling about it;

    Article (

    Video (

    Happy to share suggestions if you can describe the context & outcomes further.

    Good luck,


    [email protected]




  5. Empathy


    I’m wondering how the need for empathy training was identified. It might be the right thing but it could be that someone has alighted on empathy when actually it is something else that is needed such as rapport, listening skills or customer insight.


  6. In the other shoes…

    Hi Naomi

    I tackled a similar issue by writing fairly detailed case studies, including the customer’s problems, worries, health issues etc and then getting them to role play as the customer, giving them time to explore how it would feel to be in the customer shoes before they started, and then a debrief discussion which  included much of the EQ/NLP areas mentioned by others. It worked well for me, I wish you the best of luck!

     Julie Cooper TSM Partnership

  7. Empathy

    Hi Naomi

    Building on  all earlier comments that mention EI and NLP, a nice exercise they can do in pairs is "Perceptual Positions" – find it on any site that covers NLP.

    Hope it all goes well!





  8. empathy


    To demonstate empathy


    Empathy can be shown by asking non-judgmental questions,
    by refraining from giving an opinion of the other persons feelings or thoughts and
    by recognition of the other person’s situation.
    You cannot achieve empathy without listening to the answer that someone gives you.
    Reflecting and summarising build on both empathy and listening skills. 


  9. Who cares about empathy?

    Hi Naomi,

    A bit late for your needs perhaps but just in case anyone else is looking through the answers…

    You don’t need to teach your sales people what empathy is. They already know. As human beings, we all have a sense of empathy, it’s part of the foundation of our society, the ability to feel what other people feel, to put ourselves in their shoes, to make decisions based not only on our own individual needs.

    I suggest that the problem, if there is one, is not about empathy but about priority. If your sales culture produces an output that you take as an indication of lack of empathy, then that’s a problem with sales culture, not sales peoples’ interpersonal skills, the problem being that the sales people are fully capable of empathising with their customers, they’re just not motivated to CARE. They can know how their customers feel, but that’s not a priority for them, it has no material impact on their behaviour. This product isn’t really right for the customer? So what? I’ve got a target to hit.

    As they used to say, and still should, "The customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care."

    So you don’t need an exercise to teach empathy, you need a change in sales management behaviour and a way to motivate, measure and reward sales people who react to their customers’ needs.

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