6 Tips: How to Show Empathy Over the Phone

Guest Post

How to Show Empathy Over the Phone Conversations: 6 Strategies Revealed

Feb 16, 2024

12 mins read

Manisha Khandelwal

Did you know that 93% of communication effectiveness is determined by non-verbal cues? Even in text-based communication like chats, non-verbal cues such as emojis and memes play a significant role. However, during phone calls, this concept takes on a more traditional interpretation. Your pauses, tone of voice, and the overall tone of the conversation can convey crucial messages.

Today, in the area of customer support, telephone engagements play an important role in building and maintaining strong connections with customers. The inability to rely on visual cues when communicating can make it challenging to express genuine concern and understanding.

The power of empathy in transforming simple exchanges into impactful customer experiences is often overlooked in telephonic communications. It’s vital to approach each interaction as an opportunity to better comprehend the customer’s perspective and establish a rapport.

We are here to guide you through six key tactics to incorporate empathy into your telephone interactions, aiming to improve your approach to customer care.

Let’s explore these tactics to enhance the quality of your customer interactions.

Understanding Empathy Over the Phone Communication

Empathy, whether in personal relationships, at work, or in customer service, represents the ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes or to see things from their perspective. This is important, especially in conversations, as it is significant for customers to feel that you understand their perspectives and feelings.

The image shows People using smartphones to communicate with each other.

When we talk about empathy, fundamentally we mean understanding.

Staying fully engaged in the conversation, empathizing with the customer, and practicing active listening are key to improving communication and gaining insights into the customer’s needs.

Mastering this skill sets you apart, enabling you to turn routine phone interactions into meaningful exchanges. Customers will feel appreciated and connected on an emotional level, enhancing their overall experience with your service.

This is your advantage, and you should view empathy as a superpower in your communication. This is something that makes a difference in both the personal and professional world.

Understanding empathy in communication is important for the following reasons:

  1. Building deeper connections and relationships – Recognizing, valuing, and understanding customers’ feelings helps to establish a stronger, more personal, and deeper connection.
  2. More effective and better conflict resolution – A more compassionate approach to disagreements and misunderstandings leads to less confrontational solutions and more efficient and productive discussions aimed at problem-solving.
  3. Increased credibility and trust – When customers realize that they are understood by you, they feel more relaxed and, as a result, are more likely to trust and respect you. This is an invaluable component crucial for every relationship.

6 Strategies: How to Show Empathy Over the Phone with the Customer

1. The Art of Active Listening

Active listening is a cornerstone of effective communication skills, especially in phone conversations where visual cues are absent. It’s more than just hearing the words; it’s about fully engaging with the speaker’s message.

  • Give Full Attention: Keep distractions at bay and focus entirely on the speaker.
  • Show Engagement: Use verbal nods like “I understand” or “Tell me more” to indicate active participation.
  • Reflect and Clarify: Paraphrase or summarize what you’ve heard to ensure accurate understanding.
  • Remember that it’s supposed to be both-sided.

It’s a delicate art of tuning into not just the words but the subtle nuances in tone, pace, and emotion. When you listen actively, you’re demonstrating to the speaker that you’re not just hearing their words but deeply understanding and empathizing with their feelings and thoughts.

This is especially important when it comes to leadership, where 76% of people feel engaged after they believe that they’ve been heard by their boss.

This kind of engagement creates a conversation that transcends the ordinary exchange of words, building a solid foundation of empathy and trust.

In our world brimming with distractions, the act of giving someone your undivided attention is a rare and powerful gift.

2.Use Open-Ended Questions:

This image shows the survey where questions were asked Was there anything more we could have done to improve the support for you?

Using open-ended questions is a great way to make your conversation more interactive.

  • Open-ended questions make your audience actually engage with your message. It makes them pause and think, which is why it grips more of their attention
  • Starting a question with “How would you like…, What would you say if…,” are just some of the ways to make the conversation interactive from the very first word you utter.
  • Words like “why” and “how” in questions uncover deeper needs and emotions, which already serve as a major benefit.

The use of open-ended questions is always good, but it takes some strategy to do it in the most effective way.

Create CSAT Surveys with multiple questions with SurveySensum.

3. Technological Aids to Enhance Communication

Historically, customers with disabilities, especially those with hearing challenges, faced significant obstacles in navigating customer service environments, from workplaces to educational settings. Communication barriers often led to feelings of exclusion, as they struggled to engage in conversations or pick up on non-verbal signals. However, the landscape has changed dramatically with modern technological advancements, reducing the impact of hearing loss in the classroom, workspace, or similar.

Yet, many businesses and individuals have not fully adopted these technological advancements into their communication practices. Embracing these developments could significantly underscore a commitment to inclusivity, especially aiding those with disabilities and communication difficulties.

In today’s digital age, technology plays a key role in enhancing interactions, especially for those with hearing loss. Among these innovations, premier hearing aid apps for Android stand out. These apps extend beyond simple sound enhancement; they offer personalized settings to accommodate unique hearing preferences, ensuring telephone interactions are not just louder but also more accessible, contributing to a more inclusive customer interaction environment.

Impact of Technological Aids:

  • Increased Accessibility – Such applications provide easier access to communication for customers with hearing problems.
  • Improved Customization – Clearer conversations are enabled by adjusting settings to the specific needs of customers with hearing issues.
  • Simple Usage – The applications are easy to navigate and adaptable for customers of all ages.
  • Cost-Effective: A more accessible and cost-efficient alternative to traditional hearing aids.
  • Strengthening and Empowering – These applications empower individuals, increasing their self-confidence and sense of independence, making them more prepared to participate in phone conversations.

By integrating such technological aids into our daily lives, we open up a world of new possibilities for inclusive communication.

4. Emotional Intelligence and Phone Conversations

The image shows A woman holding a plant and a balloon with a speech bubble above it, conveying a cheerful message.

Emotional intelligence in phone conversations is like navigating a ship through foggy waters; it requires keen awareness and sensitivity.

This skill is about listening with empathy, responding with sensitivity, and managing your emotions to maintain a positive and productive dialogue. It involves:

  • Self-Awareness 
  • Self-Regulation
  • Empathy
  • Social Skills
  • Motivation

Each of these components contributes to positive conversation outcomes.

1. Self-Awareness

It starts with self-awareness, where you’re in tune with your own emotions.  Understanding how you feel during a conversation is crucial. Are you anxious, calm, excited? 

This awareness influences how you respond and communicate.

2. Self-Regulation

The next important thing is self-control. It’s crucial to manage your emotional reactions in a way that doesn’t allow your feelings to take over the conversation. Be objective and distance yourself from your subjectivity, as this can easily cloud your judgment.

Keeping a calm head, especially in intense and heated discussions, can give you an advantage and significantly influence the outcome of the conversation.

3. Empathy

Be empathetic and pay attention to the customer’s voice, the tone of the conversation, and how they speak. This gives you an edge since, in phone calls, you can’t see the body language of the speaker.

Empathy enables you to hear not just the words but also the story and feelings of the person.

Emotional insights provide you with the ability to more effectively lead and navigate the conversation and respond in a way that resonates with them, thereby building a stronger relationship.

4. Social Skills

Some people are just better at “reading the room.” They pick up social cues a lot faster, find a way to adjust to the situation at hand, and even change their tone and posture based on the group they’re talking to.

While some people have a greater natural aptitude for this, make no mistake, it’s a skill that you can learn.

5. Motivation

Lastly, motivation is key. Positive emotions are contagious. By maintaining an enthusiastic and encouraging tone, you can inspire and uplift the customer on the other end of the line, turning even routine conversations into opportunities for positive engagement.

Blending all these aspects of emotional intelligence, you transform your phone conversations into more than just a series of exchanged words; they become pathways to deeper, more meaningful connections.

This approach ensures that every interaction becomes an opportunity for strong and genuine engagement.

5.Handling Difficult Conversations with Empathy

The essential truth is that empathy cannot be simulated; it requires genuine concern and interest. In the context of business telephone interactions, achieving authentic empathy is entirely feasible.

Consider your own experiences as a customer, likely not far removed in time. By managing the conversation with the same consideration and responsiveness you would appreciate as the customer, you’re poised to deliver a positive outcome.

This approach not only enhances customer satisfaction but also reinforces the importance of personalized, empathetic customer service in building lasting relationships.

Same good strategies to make these difficult conversations simple and straightforward are:

  • Be Calm and Reasonable – A composed demeanor contributes to keeping the conversation constructive and reaching a solution.
  • Listen Without Judgment – Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and analyze what they say without judgment. Understanding the speaker is very important.
  • Be Genuine in Expressing Empathy – Show concern and empathy for the feelings or situation the other person is in.
  • Use Soothing Words and Tone – Choose words that provide comfort and support and a tone that is calm and understanding.
  • Encourage the Speaker to Find Solutions Together – Emphasize the importance of teamwork and cooperation.

These strategies can turn difficult conversations into opportunities for building stronger and deeper connections, which benefits your customer relations in the long run.

6. Cultivating a Habit of Empathy

The image shows Four people offering sympathy to each other

Cultivating a habit of empathy in phone conversations it’s a continuous journey of personal growth. It starts with a commitment to truly listen and understand others. Imagine every phone call as a window into someone else’s world. 

Approach each conversation with an open mind and heart, ready to explore and appreciate their perspective.

Empathy also involves being attuned to your own emotions. It’s about recognizing how your feelings can influence your responses and striving to maintain a balance between emotional understanding and thoughtful communication. Practice reflecting on your conversations. What went well? What could you have done differently? This reflection helps in fine-tuning your empathetic skills.

Remember, empathy is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets. 

Integrate it into your daily interactions, not just on phone calls but in all aspects of communication. Over time, this practice transforms empathy from a conscious effort into a natural, ingrained part of your interactions, enriching both your personal and professional relationships.

7. Identifying and Addressing Emotions

Nothing in human interactions is completely fact-based, which means that you’ll have to approach this conversation from the standpoint of emotions. As long as you can identify and address them, you’ll have a massive head start.

  • First of all, you can express your care and concern verbally. Tell them directly that you care.
  • Emotional cues are quite easy to read, and customers can tell if you don’t really mean something by reading the tone of your voice. Don’t allow this to take place. 
  • Give them an insight into how to withstand this problem. If you can, give them an ETA of the conversation or the solution to the problem.
  • Lastly, you must incorporate the feedback loop. You’re not there just to read the cold opening from the paper. There’s a living, breathing person on the other end of the line, which is why you must acknowledge what they’re saying.

In other words, you can’t just focus on the problem. Instead, address how this makes them feel.


The key takeaway from this discussion is that honing empathy skills is crucial for forging significant relationships during phone interactions. The outlined six strategies present a roadmap for enhancing empathy and comprehension, offering a unique opportunity to elevate your customer service in each conversation. This approach not only improves customer engagement but also positions you to positively impact customer satisfaction and feedback with every call.

Remember, empathy represents a genuine connection and understanding of other people.

By incorporating these techniques into your everyday communication and interactions, you become better communicators and enhance your personal and professional relationships.

Because of all that has been said, continue to nurture the skill of empathy, and each of your phone conversations becomes a new opportunity to establish friendly and strong relationships.

Manisha Khandelwal

Senior Content Marketer at SurveySensum

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