This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

Unit7, a direct marketing/CRM agency that is part of the Omnicom family, figured out an ingenious way to give heart to a campaign for a Type 2 diabetes medication to fight off diabetes.

Before beginning work on the campaign, 80 Unit7 staffers signed up to live the life of a diabetic patient. Finger-pricking, careful eating, regular exercise: The staff was asked to do exactly what a patient, someone in their ultimate audience, does every day—for a 14-week period. Only then were they ready to create an ad campaign that spoke to the people being served.

One of the fundamental principles of trust is that we trust those who we believe understand us. In fact, if we don’t believe they understand us, we don’t trust them. Call this “empathy” if you like. You can also find it in the old sales line, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”1

Are you willing to walk in your stakeholders’ shoes the way Unit7 did? What difference would it make if you were?

1As told to Charles H. Green by Loreen Babcock (CEO, Unit7) in The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook: A Comprehensive Toolkit for Leading with Trust

Bonus: Making it Real

This week, before your next meeting with an important stakeholder, put yourself in her shoes. How?

While you can’t do that literally, you can do the next best thing—role-play. Do it at least mentally, and preferably with a partner—by seeing and feeling what the world is like from her perspective. In other words, take a few minutes to be her.

What distractions/challenges/pressures is she dealing with? What recent victories are worthy of celebration? What might she be thinking? Feeling? Ask a trusted colleague to listen to you speak as you speak from her perspective.

Note what comes out of this inquiry. How you might approach your next interaction as a result of what you learned?

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).