By Gina Trimarco, Chief Results Officer

“Not everybody deserves empathy,”

said the CEO to me while I was delivering a training session on emotional intelligence to a group of CEOs in a Vistage International meeting. My jaw dropped. As an improviser, able to respond quickly to anything, I was paralyzed for a moment that felt like eternity.  My inside voice was saying, “Are you [bleeping] kidding me?” while my outside trainer voice said, “Tell me more about that.”

He proceeded to say that people who make the same mistakes over and over again don’t deserve empathy.

Once again, I just kind of paused as I would do as an improv performer on stage who truly has no idea what to create based on a stupid audience suggestion like “proctologist”. 

The irony is that instead of telling him that it was really on him to be a better leader to prevent those mistakes from happening, I instead became spontaneously empathetic to his plight.

In my early leadership days, I may have said the same thing for a variety of reasons: I was overworked and couldn’t see the big picture, I hadn’t been trained to coach others get better at their jobs or I didn’t know how to hire well. Because I’m able to self-empathize, I can quickly empathize with others. I know my triggers, strengths and weaknesses.. I practice being self-aware. And because of all of that, it’s easier for me to help manage the emotions of others.

In business, you can’t get frustrated with employees, co-workers, prospects, clients or vendors that resist or shut you down. They may not be aware of their own pains and needs. Try to imagine what their worlds might be like, including their personal lives. Find common ground to connect and build rapport. And then have compassion to collaborate and help them find solutions.

As the old saying goes, No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” From there, you can start building a profitable relationship.

Do you need to improve your ability to be spontaneously empathetic?

We can help you with that. Check out our Spontaneous Selling 1.0 video series below.

Additional Resources:

– Gina


Gina Trimarco, CEO/Founder of Pivot10 Results and Carolina Improv Company, is a serial entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in marketing, sales, operations and people training. A Chicago native, she was recruited to Myrtle Beach South Carolina in 2007 to take over an IMAX theater after successfully turning around the one at Navy Pier. When the economy crashed in 2008 she opted to do something seemingly impossible to many by starting an unproven concept business instead of finding a new job. That business, Carolina Improv Company (CIC), has been #1 on TripAdvisor for Nightlife Attractions in Myrtle Beach, SC since 2010. Soon after that, she founded Pivot10 Results, a training and strategy company that helps businesses and executives shift from people problems to performance results. through soft skills training and coaching. She graduated from DePaul University and studied at Second City while pursuing her degree in Communications. Trimarco produces and hosts two podcasts: The Pivotal Leader is and Women Your Mother Warned You About. She also is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, a contributor to and, as well as a Vistage Worldwide member and official Vistage Worldwide speaker.

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About the author

Gina Trimarco is a native of Chicago and CEO/Founder of Pivot10 Results and Carolina Improv Company. She has 25+ years of experience in marketing, sales, operations and people training. Gina combines street smarts and improv comedy skills with her experience in the corporate and entrepreneurial worlds, which sets her apart from her competition.

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