In-house WBR_Blog Banner (20)

Technicality Vs EQ: Why Every Editor Needs A High Empathy Filter

By Georgia Kirke

Have a read of the two passages below, each of which was written for the same book. 

The first version is by an excellent technical editor with an impressive professional background. 

The second version came from exactly the same transcript, but was written up by our Senior Editor, Kat. She uses both technical conventions and a high empathy filter. 

In Version 1, the point the author is making is relayed, but their personality has been deleted from the draft. In Version 2, the message is relayed and the author’s personality is channelled into the text. As you can imagine, the client loved Version 2.

Key Takeaway #1: Tone of voice matters.
Key Takeaway #2: Being a great editor isn’t enough.

Version 1:

When it comes to mindset, there are broadly two types: growth-focused and fixed. The first looks to the future and grows in that direction. The second is stuck in the present and goes nowhere. Hopefully it’s clear from just that short sentence that to be a successful business owner you need to have a growth mindset and avoid the fixed mindset altogether! The trouble is that you may have no idea which mindset you have.

So, before we jump into the how of improving mindset and moving from a fixed to a growth perspective, and the why of what lies at the root of these issues (see Chapters 2 and 3 for more on this), let’s look at what these different mindsets look like within a business. If you suspect that your mindset might lie more towards the fixed side, don’t worry! The first step is always realising this, and throughout Part 1 the book will help you to move in the right direction.

After working on this with clients over many years, it’s often quite clear within the first five minutes of entering a business whether the owner has a fixed or growth mindset. So what are the key signs?

Characteristics of fixed and growth mindsets

Fixed mindsetGrowth mindset
Problem-focusedSolution-focused and persistent
Putting their energy into what’s going wrongPutting their energy into ‘how do we get to the next level’
Blaming all that’s going wrong on external circumstance; making excusesTaking full personal accountability for the success of the business
Negative and disempowering self-talkPositive and supportive self-talk 
Negativity when talking to the team; trying to control them; bad vibes on the floorPositivity when talking to the team; leading / inspiring them; good vibes on the floor
Culture of blame and shameCulture of learn and grow
Handling emotions poorly; feeling too drained when a challenge comes up to face itManaging emotions well; energised by a vision of the future which allows them to deal with challenges effectively
Stay within their comfort zone; decisions based on fearAlways pushing outside their comfort zone; decisions based on vision
Stuck in the present pain; spend their days fighting firesConstantly looking to future goals, and taking consistent daily action towards them

Of course these are not black and white categories; each one lies on a scale, and you may find yourself somewhere in the middle, or more towards one end or the other. This may in fact fluctuate throughout the week – even those with the best growth mindset sometimes have bad days. However, what we really want is to be occupying the right-hand column as much of the time as possible. So, let’s look at each of these markers in a little more detail.

Version 2:

I’d like to begin by sharing the stories of two female salon owners. Imagine that they both have their salons on the same street in the same town and that they both have the same years of experience and opened their salons at the same time. As you’ll quickly realise, the difference is mindset. 

[Start box]

Meet Sandra…

As Sandra walks into her salon in the morning, she sighs. It’s empty again with no customers and her team are standing around talking. She says a brief ‘good morning’ to her team before going into the back office. How am I going to pay their wages when we don’t have any customers? I can’t keep this up. I’m not making any money. I wasn’t cut out for this. As thoughts start running through her head, Sandra feels the panic rising inside and a sick feeling settles in her stomach. This is all my fault. I’m not doing enough to bring in new customers. But how can I get more new customers when I’m not good at marketing? Every time I try it never works! No one is spending money on haircuts and treatments at the moment. What am I going to do? I just want to give up. 

This is Sandra’s inner story all morning. It’s running through her head while she’s working in the office, trying to balance the figures. Feeling completely disillusioned, she comes back onto the floor. It’s a little after 12pm and the salon is about to hit its busy lunchtime spell. She notices a customer waiting by the desk, and then realises that one of her stylists hasn’t turned up. She was supposed to be working at 12pm. Staff have been calling in sick a lot lately… Sandra doesn’t let this thought finish. She calls the stylist but only reaches her voicemail. She checks the diary and realises she’ll need to cover the column that day for a few hours. Not ideal when it’s meant to be my day in the office, but I need the customers. I can’t just turn them away because my stylist is sick. 

At around 2pm, the missing stylist waltzes in. She offers a vague explanation as to why she was late. Sandra is just relieved she’s shown up at all and takes the opportunity to retreat to the office. She knows she should talk to her stylist about showing up on time and give her a final warning for her lateness, it’s not the first time. I can’t face a confrontation today. I’ll deal with it another time. I can’t afford to lose a stylist right now, better to have someone than no one at all for that chair. 

Sandra struggles to concentrate on her work for the rest of the day. She was going to update her salon’s social media pages but she doesn’t have the energy. Her negative self-talk keeps resurfacing and pulling her focus away from the business. She feels drained and completely out of her depth. We’re not getting enough clients through the door. This is just a small town. I can’t find more clients. She leaves the office as her team are finishing up for the day. Before she leaves and locks up, she checks the next day’s diary. Her heart sinks even more when she sees all the white space. The only clients booked in the next morning are in her own column. As she leaves she gives her team a half smile. I hope we have some clients tomorrow morning…

[End box]

[Start box]

Meet Jenny…

When Jenny arrives at her salon in the morning there are no customers. Her team are standing around talking and Jenny greets them with a beaming smile. She goes into the office and checks the diary. No clients are booked in until 11am. How can we get the salon to fill up a bit earlier? She starts to wonder if there is anything she can do to encourage clients to book earlier appointments, or to attract clients who would like those early slots. She takes out her laptop and starts doing some research on targeted social media advertising. I wonder if there’s something I’m missing? Something I’m not doing? Just then, one of her stylists pops her head around the door and asks if Jenny can train her on how to use the new booking system before they get busy. Jenny smiles, “Sure!” 

At 11.50am, Jenny realises one of her stylists hasn’t arrived yet. She is due to start work at 12pm. Jenny pops back to the office and calls her, only reaching her voicemail. She leaves her a message telling her to contact her as soon as she can. She’s been calling in sick a lot lately. I can’t keep covering and rearranging her appointments. I’ll need to talk to her. 

A quick glance at the diary shows that they’ll be stretched for the next few hours. With a bit of clever rearranging, she manages to get all the clients moved to her other stylists so she can carry on working in the office and focus on developing the new morning booking strategy. Although it takes some time out of her day, she’s pleased that she doesn’t have to cover a column. I’ve still got a good couple of hours this afternoon to work on my marketing plan.

The missing stylist turns up two hours late. Jenny hears her arrive, takes a deep breath and takes her into the back office to have a chat. These conversations are never easy, but it’s not fair on me or the rest of the team if she’s going to keep behaving like this. Jenny has a conversation with her about being on time and explains that she’s letting her and the rest of the team down, and the effect it has on the rest of the team and clients. She asks her yet again if there is anything wrong and whether she really wants to work there and gets an evasive answer. She gives her a final warning for her lateness; it’s the third time in a month. She’ll probably quit before I let her go, but better that than having someone unreliable on the team. I would rather have less of the right staff than more of the wrong staff. 

Although it quietens down in the afternoon, Jenny feels as though she’s accomplished a lot. She has set up some new targeted local adverts on social media and has updated her marketing plan. One day that salon floor will be bustling from 9am to 6pm. She smiles to herself as she pictures the scene and imagines not being able to hear the radio over the noise of hairdryers and chatter between her stylists and customers. She spends the final hour of her day looking up and contacting potential business mentors. I know I can make this salon a huge success, I just need a little extra help to get there. 

As Jenny leaves for the day, she thanks her team for their support and for stepping in to manage the extra work due to the late and missing stylist. She also reminds the team of the training session she’s arranged for the next morning because there are no clients in. Although she’s tired, she’s excited. Reaching out to potential mentors was a little scary, but she knows it will make all the difference to the future of the business. I can’t wait to see if anyone has replied tomorrow! She’s still thinking of a busy and bustling salon as she walks down the street. 

[End box]

These two examples might be slightly simplified, but they’re designed to show you what a difference a growth mindset makes compared to a fixed mindset. In the rest of this chapter I’ll unpack the characteristics of each mindset for you, but refer back to these stories as well. I’m sure you can see which of these two women has the fixed mindset and which has the growth mindset.  

In the first example we meet Sandra, who has a fixed mindset. She is stressed. She’s not happy. She feels overwhelmed and she lacks direction for her business. This isn’t how you want to or should feel after a day at work. Without changing her mindset, she will stay in the same position, facing the same problems, or will simply give up on her business. 

In the second example we meet Jenny, who has a growth mindset. She knows she has some issues, but she’s in control. She’s looking for solutions. She feels excited for the future, because she knows what she wants it to look like. She’s determined to do what it takes to realise her vision of a busy and thriving salon. Leaving your salon with a smile on your face, even after a challenging day, is what you want. 

Notice the difference between the inner dialogues of each woman. We are only ever doing two things with our inner dialogue: asking questions or making statements. Sandra asked disempowering questions like, “How can I get more clients when I’m no good?” and made statements like, “We’re not getting enough clients.” Compare that to Jenny, who asked, “Where can I find a mentor to help me?” and made statements like, “I know I can make this salon a huge success.”

Having read those two extracts, can you see the difference that a high-empathy filter has on the quality of your content?

When you’re looking for an editor to work on your content, especially any content that’s highly personal to you, you need one who can step into both your shoes and the shoes of your ideal reader. 

Your editor needs to be able to visualise their world and bring it to life so that it leaps off the page for them. This is where empathy comes in, and it’s what makes the difference between a book that ends up gathering dust after just a few pages have been read, and one that has a lasting impact on those who read it. 

Want to learn more about our editing services and how we can make sure your personality shines through in your book? Book a Clarity Call today.

Comments are closed.