Put yourself in your interlocutor's shoes: rule No. 3 of effective communication

The third point for successful written and oral communication

In second part dedicated to effective communication we have seen the importance of offering listeners or readers one or more concrete advantages. Let us now continue our excursus by touching on another fundamental rule concerning empathy. The term empathy, from the Greek "en", inside, and "pathos", feeling, indicates a condition that every good communicator should realize when he writes or speaks. Put yourself in your interlocutor's shoes it means not so much lowering yourself to his level, but rather quickly understanding his needs and adapting communication accordingly. The final example of the previous episode was very simple and compared a presentation with an audience of dads and the same presentation with an audience of mums. It is clear that there is a big difference in what one should or should not say for capture the attention and hit the mark.

But how to activate this psychological mechanism on command? And how can you use it for your own needs? First of all, we distinguish two scenarios, depending on the possibility or not to know in advance the people we reach out to. In the first case, our audience of listeners (or readers) will be known and this will allow us to prepare the speech or text in the best possible way. In the second case we will have a certain margin of uncertainty, not being able to clearly identify the profile of our interlocutors. Putting yourself in the shoes of someone you already know is a simple operation after all, it is quite another thing to feel empathy at the moment you speak, or, worse, when you are writing to someone who you do not yet know is our future reader. So let's see how to profile the public in both situations and how to then leverage the data collected to your advantage.


In marketing jargon, profiling is that information search activity aimed at defining the potential target (in our case who listens or who reads). Age, geographical area, level of education, gender, marital status, and above all interests. This wealth of information is precious and allows us to set up communication even more effectively. There are several systems for profiling users. We list some of them by way of example, so as to reveal the background the prerogative of those who communicate by profession.

Know the target of an event via Facebook

To begin, let's imagine a fairly frequent occasion: the organization of a public event via Facebook. It can be the presentation of a course (or the course itself), it can be a charity evening, it can be a dinner to collect names... Here you can customize your audience through paid advertising (Pay-Per-Click). The budget is set, the ads are written and the characteristics of the public to which the promotion is aimed are specified. An undoubtedly easy, immediate and safe method.

Know the target of an event via Google

As with Facebook, Google also has the option to deliver advertisements to a specific audience. Building a sponsored ads campaign means – on large numbers – knowing exactly who we will be dealing with on the day of the event. The page to which users are sent when they click on the ad is called the landing page (or landing page) and must be built in compliance with precise rules, such that the user is encouraged to take an action (lead generation) .

Know the target of an event with a live broadcast

Nowadays, live broadcasts are very fashionable. It doesn't matter whether they're on Youtube or Facebook, what matters is the opportunity to interact for free with those who want to follow our initiatives, whatever they are (multimedia labs, art projects, workshops, etc.). Here too we have a direct system for taking the public's pulse in advance: through questions and comparisons, we will be able to know everyone's expectations, curiosities, desires and preferences. In short, everything you need to put yourself in the shoes of those who would otherwise remain perfect strangers.


Now that we have seen how to profile the public to our advantage, let's try to understand how empathize with the interlocutor and conquer so his confidence. These are old tricks that real estate agents, commercials, car salesmen, politicians and many other categories of professionals have used since the Internet did not exist yet, but which still come in handy today both online and offline. It is worth listing them in no particular order:

1) Listen to the people in front of you

Ever since the world began, people want to be heard and understood. Don't just talk and talk and talk some more – take the time to hear what the audience has to say. Criticisms are also constructive and become excellent outlets to dilute the atmosphere and keep self-referentiality under control.

2) Interact with coherent questions

Asking questions to the audience is a duty. Woe to forget that we are interacting with human beings and not with robots or animals. People want to be asked, and from their answers (or feedback, to use a term widely used on the web) we can direct the discourse and perfect communication as we please.

3) Look the counterpart in the eye

Have you ever noticed that politicians on campaign always look among the people? They don't get distracted with the phone, they don't check the clock, they don't stare into space: their gaze is focused on the people around them, an unwritten and unspoken way to put themselves in their shoes and underline the strong empathy established from the beginning in the end.

4) Share your experiences

During a public speech, lecture or other kind of situation, remember to share your personal experiences with it. Similar anecdotes help break the ice, create empathy and break the normal distrust of others. A brief episode recalled in a confidential tone is worth a thousand slides!

We are sure that by putting these essential tips into practice, you will not only be able to put yourself in the shoes of the people you need to speak to, but you will be able to build successful communication, with much greater chances of success. Appointment to the next episode with the fourth golden rule of Innovando for a successful communication: use examples within everyone's reach!