By Nancy Friedman. Customer Service Keynote Speaker, President Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training.

If I could, I would eliminate this phrase from customer service.

There is simply no way on G-Ds green earth one person can understand the feelings of others. We can sympathize, but as an empathy statement. Watch this:

You can say: “Gee, I’ve never had that experience.”

You can say: “That has got to be very frustrating.”

You can say: “I can’t imagine what you’re feeling.”

You can say: “I’ve had that experience and agree, it’s frustrating.”

But you cannot/should not say: “I understand how you feel.”


At my dads funeral, a friend came up to me and said, “Oh I’m so sorry Nancy, I know how you feel.” I said, “Myrna, your dad is sitting right over there . . . how can you know how I feel?” And even if she had lost her dad, each of our feelings are so different. It’s just not a great statement when trying to say, “I’ve been there too.” Use the positive alternatives shown in our video blog.

Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman, customer service keynote speaker, is founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and a featured speaker at franchise, association, and corporate meetings around the world. A popular TV guest, she appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning, as well as hundreds of other radio, television and print outlets around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. The author of 9 books on her chosen topics, Nancy helps corporate America improve their communications with their customers & co-workers.