Version 7

    Working Out Loud Circle Guide:  Week 8


    You practice empathy as you offer contributions.


    Suggested reading:

    • Chapter 15 - How to Approach People

    • Chapter 19 - Shipping and Getting Better

    • “How This Guy Can Get People to Read His E-mails” by Ramit Sethi

    • “PSA: Email Introduction Etiquette” by Anand Sanwal

    • “3 LinkedIn Email Responses For Invitations to Connect” by Helen Blunden


    Suggested Agenda

    10 minutes- What happened since last week?

    20 minutes - Exercise: Read & discuss the two suggested articles

    15 minutes - Exercise: Selling free (aka Earning attention)

    10 minutes - The group discusses practicing empathy

    5 minutes - A few things before the next meeting


    What happened last week? (10 minutes)

    Each person should speak for a few minutes about what they did since the last meeting. Did you make an adjustment based on the habit checklist? If so, how did it go? If not, why not and how could members of the circle help each other?


    Exercise: Read and discuss the three suggested articles (20 minutes)

    If you haven’t read the suggested articles by Ramit Sethi, Anand Sanwal, and Helen Blunden, read them now. (If you have read them, skim them again and prepare to discuss them.) These articles are quite different but have something important in common: they require you to adopt the other person’s point of view as you offer your gift. In general, being mindful of the following three questions changes how you feel when you approach someone


    1.What would my reaction be if I were that person?

    2. Why should she care?

    3. Why am I doing this?


    These questions invoke empathy and generosity, and make you more mindful of the actions you take and the words you use. When you frame your contribution as a genuine gift, it’s liberates you from the fear of being pushy or being rejected. Examining your motives helps you avoid being manipulative, insincere, or otherwise doing something you’re uncomfortable with.


    Seth Godin described it as the “sound of confidence”: “Generosity, not arrogance. Problem-solving, not desperation. Helpfulness, not selfishness.”


    After everyone has read the articles, discuss whether the approach described in each is something you agree is better for both the giver and receiver.


    Once again you can use your Working Out Loud Group in [Jive Community] to post the suggested articles and also the answers to the 3 questions listed above. It might be a good idea to document everyone's ideas or answers in your Group. You could create a discussion where everyone can comment, share their ideas, "Like" comments and even mark as "Helpful".


    To create a discussion go to your Working out Loud group and click on the actions tab and choose Discussion.

    Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 3.58.05 PM.png


    And then Enter the title and the 3 questions for the readings.

    Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 3.58.48 PM.png


    Once the discussion has been posted, all members in your WOL Group can post their answers to the 3 questions in the discussion shown below. It's the perfect place to make additional comments, share your thoughts and give positive feedback to your members by clicking on Like, Helpful, or even commenting and @-mentioning someone.

    Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 3.59.59 PM.png


    Exercise: Selling free (aka Earning attention) (15 minutes)

    Now comes the art of delivering these messages so they will be read and appreciated. Ramit Sethi, author and entrepreneur, captured it well in his article: “You have to sell free.” The word “sell” has negative connotations, but what it really means is showing people why they should care.


    For example, do not just send people a book recommendation or random URL. In a world full of thousands of links a day, you might as well send that e-mail straight to the trash.


    Sending people a random link—even if it would change their lives—isn’t a favor. It’s a burden.


    You have to “sell” free. You have to explain why this link matters and what they’ll get out of it.


    The key is empathy. What will the other person be thinking as she reads this? As you keep that in mind, you’ll want your notes to have three elements: appreciation, personalization, and value. Whatever channel you use to reach someone, you must show sincere, thoughtful appreciation for the recipient. How you deliver that gift depends on your level of intimacy with the person as well as

    the relevance of the gift. The less intimate the relationship, the less invasive the channel you should use. Twitter mentions, for example, are neither an introduction or burden, whereas a text message can be see as both, with email in between the two.


    Try to make at least one contribution now - e.g., share an article or make an introduction - and practice empathy as you do it.


    Share an interesting blog, document, discussion, idea, or poll from [Jive Community] to another user. This can be done very easily by going to the piece of content and clicking on Share and then entering the user's name and a message that uses how to "sell" free.

    Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 4.13.53 PM.png


    You can also introduce a piece of content to someone by sending a direct message and @-mentioning the title of the piece of content and adding your "sell" free comment. Check out the example below where I have created a direct message and @-mentioned the article name "@week_8_3...." and my discussion shows up in the drop down. Remember to use an underscore to search multiple words.

    Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 4.20.30 PM.png


    Even when asking for help, your first thoughts should still be about empathy and generosity. How will the recipient receive your request and is there any way to frame it as a contribution?


    Before you ask to “pick someone’s brain,” spend time figuring out how the other person can gain something too. It might take some creative thinking on your part, but it will help you stand out and get better results.

    The group discusses practicing empathy (10 minutes)

    Discuss examples of empathy - and the lack of it - in your everyday communications. Talk about your own “Sell free” exercise, and think of the email and other messages you get. Do people typically practice empathy?


    A few things before the next meeting (5 minutes)

    At the end of this meeting, the facilitator has three small but important jobs:


    1. Schedule the next meeting.

    2. Remind people to read the Week 9 circle guide and suggested reading.

    3. Ask: “What will you do this week?”


    Before the next meeting, keep working on your relationship list and on making contributions. Consider each contribution an opportunity to practice empathy.

    Frequently Asked Questions


    Q: Selling free seems fake.

    If it feels fake or inauthentic, stop. Only share something you think is a genuine contribution that might be helpful or interesting to the other person. If you feel like it’s a trick, manipulation, or stealthy request for a favor, don’t send it. If you don’t like the phrase“selling free,” think of it as “earning someone’s attention.”


    Q: But what if my contributions aren’t good enough?

    Although your early original contributions may not meet your aspirations, whether they are “good enough” depends more on how they’re offered and the expectations around them. If I pay two thousand dollars for a vase from a store, I expect a certain level of craftsmanship. If my friend is learning to make pottery and offers me one of his first creations as a gift, I’ll cherish it no matter how misshapen it may be.


    Additional exercises from Working Out Loud

    Something you can do in less than a minute

    Think of a message you received recently that made you feel more connected to the person who sent it. What was it about the message that made you feel that way? Try to identify how you could use some of those same elements to make others feel more connected to you and make your messages more personal and engaging.


    Something you can do in less than 5 minutes

    Imagine you receive a LinkedIn connection request from someone, and it’s the default, impersonal message provided by LinkedIn:


    I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn.


    How would you feel? If you’re like me, you might think, “Gee, he couldn’t even spend thirty seconds to send a personal message!” Requesting a LinkedIn connection provides an opportunity to practice empathy. You should always personalize your request.


    Now pick someone in your network that you’ve interacted with already and send him or her a personal request. If you’re still unsure, you can send me a request and put in a personal greeting, mention you’re reading the book, or tell me which part you found helpful. That’s “earning someone’s attention.”


    LinkedIn makes it difficult to send a personalized request, particularly from your phone. Great! Your personalized note will stand out even more amid all the generic, computer-generated requests that people receive. It’s worth the time to do it well.