Who Do You Feel Sorry For?
Do you ever feel sorry for others? Does your heart ever go out to people who have experienced a painful loss
or failure? Do you feel sorry for people who are struggling to bounce back from tough situations?
Feeling sorry for others may not be the most helpful sentiment in the world.
“I kinda feel sorry for you…”
That was the subject line of an email I received.
Why would anyone feel sorry for me? I thought.
I wondered whether the person who sent the email was being sarcastic or was genuinely attempting sympathy.
I was instantly confused, turned off and even somewhat repelled. What was this person trying to tell me?
I decided to open the email and find out why this person felt sorry for me. After all, if someone took the time to reach out to let me know that he felt bad for me, there must be something seriously wrong with me and I should probably find out what it is!
Ironically, the email was a marketing ploy to encourage me to think about the message I am sending out in my own marketing efforts. Here is a direct quote from the email I received:
“Most marketers believe that the first place to start when thinking about advertising & marketing is the media—online or offline. This is a mistake. The first place you should start is your message—your unique value proposition.”
It got me thinking about his particular message and whether or not it was effective. On a gut level, my response was negative.
I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me – and if someone does, that’s not a person I want to spend a whole lot of time with.
Why? Because if someone feels bad for me, it means that they see me in a very poor light – one that is not very inspiring and pretty debilitating, in fact. The vision of me that someone has when they feel sympathy for me is a vision of someone who is poor, incapable, diminished, lacking, and not whole.
This is not a good vision, and not one that I want to take on.
Feeling sorry for others is not empowering, does not change their situation, and fundamentally does nothing to help them. What it does is dig a deeper hole for them and define them by the very thing that causes them to feel pain. (Or causes you to feel pain on their behalf.)
So what’s the alternative? Imagining someone in a healthy, happy, thriving and successful state and sharing that vision with them. For example, the subject line of his email could have read, “Create Marketing Messages that Cause People to Take Action.”
My instant reaction would have been, “great, tell me more!”