To reach your reader, you need to know how they feel. And the key to that is empathy.
Empathy means getting right inside someone else’s experience. It’s not just an intellectual analysis of how they think or act.
When you truly empathise with someone, you see what they see, feel what they feel.
You take an imaginative leap of faith, surrender control and accept that you might be changed by what you experience.
Recently, researchers have found that we feel empathy in the same part of our brain as physical pain. So when you empathise with someone, you’re literally ‘feeling their pain’.
Empathy is emotional listening. When you respect someone else’s feelings, they know that you’re hearing them, that you acknowledge their reality. Then they’re much more likely to listen to you.
Anaïs Nin said, ‘We do not see things as they are, but as we are.’
You can present all the rational arguments you want, but if they go against your reader’s beliefs, they won’t listen.
Psychologists call this confirmation bias: people latch on to information that confirms what they know, and reject it if it challenges their worldview.
That’s why your job as a copywriter is not to coerce or blackmail the reader, but to see things from their side and make them want to act.
You can read more about knowing your reader in chapter 4 of Copywriting Made Simple.