One of the essential executive skills is empathy. To be empathetic means that you’re able to, as good as you can, understand how someone else is feeling in a specific situation. Really understanding someone is a strong starting point when you’re crafting your own message.

The empathy map helps with this. Basically, it divides someone or a group of people in 4 major area’s:

  • Think & feel: What really counts? What are their worries and aspirations? What inspires them?
  • Hear: What do friends say? What does his or her boss say? What do influencers say?
  • See: How does their environment react? How do their friends behave? What is their view of the market? What existing solutions do they know and see?
  • Say & do: How does his or her attitude and appearance in public look like? How is their behavior towards others?

Next to this, you’re going to look at what your target wants to gain and what their pain is:

  • What does your target want to gain? What do they want? What is their measure of success?
  • What are the fears of your target? Fears, frustrations, obstacles.

Here are plenty of graphical versions you can use as a starting point. I’m a big fan of Steven Covey’s “understand before being understood” and the empathy map can help you become better at this. If you’re dealing with a really complex situation, this tool can be a great help to figure out a solution that’s beneficial for both parties.