A remedial course in empathy

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User experience, at its best, is about empathy with the people who use the products and services we design. We are asked to understand the user perspectives and what they need to have satisfying and …

User experience, at its best, is about empathy with the people who use the products and services we design. We are asked to understand the user perspectives and what they need to have satisfying and successful experiences. We are called upon to be user advocates. We generally acknowledge the importance of understanding our users' points of view. Why, then, are we so generally bad at empathy? This short spotlight talk shares my personal journey (so far) in trying to answer that question and to find ways to improve my own empathy.

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  • Michael Hordern

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  • 1. A Remedial Course in Empathy Karen L Bachmann @karenbachmann #stc14
  • 2. “I think you all really care a lot about empathy. I think you all really know that it’s important. I just don’t think you are always very good at it.” ~ Karen McGrane IA Summit 2013 Closing Plenary http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2013/10/18/ia-summit-2013-karen-mcgranes-closing-plenary/ 2Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 3. WHY? WHY? 3Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 4.  Sympathy  Pity  Kindness  Happy for  Any emotional reaction to someone’s situation What empathy is not... 4Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 5.  GreaterGood: Ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.  Merriam-Webster: the feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions; the ability to share someone else's feelings What is empathy? 5Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 6.  Affective empathy: sensations and feelings we get in response to others’ emotions  Cognitive empathy: ability to identify and understand other peoples’ emotions  Emotional intelligence: the ability to monitor one's own and other people's emotions Variations on a theme 6Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 7. A mindful, intellectual process for sharing an emotional connection with another person My working definition of empathy
  • 8. Biologically wired to care Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann 8 Limbic System by Bruce Blaus (Wikimedia Commons)
  • 9. Feeling vs. Thinking Where did we go wrong? 9Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 10. Scalability of empathy 10Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 11. Scalability of empathy 11Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 12. Why are we like this? 12Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 13. Data > People 13Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 14. Business vs. Empathy “But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself. ‘Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XNKe1cGucY 18:26 14Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 15. A remedial course “Empathy is intuitive, but is also something you can work on, intellectually.” ~Tim Minchin 15Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 16.  Innovation and creativity emerges from caring about people facing problems  Empathy is critical to economic innovation  Trust economy is about people  Sharing economy is about trust  Communication is harder and more critical than ever and empathy builds connections Why do we need to return to empathy? 16Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 17. Wired: A related example How Airbnb and Lyft Finally Got Americans to Trust Each Other 17Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 18.  Change our language  Use the language of people we engage with  Take care of the people you engage with in how we talk to them and of them  Change our approaches  Spend time really immersed in the “problem space”  Change ourselves  Practice empathy How? 18Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 19.  Users, certainly  Teams and collaborators  Partners and extended teams  Peers and colleagues  Everyone? Mankind is my business 19Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann “I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization.” ~ Robert Ebert
  • 20.  Actively listen, don’t judge  Read stories, real stories, of people you engage with  Expose yourself to more people regularly – be curious  Model, mirror, imagine  Be mindful and correct yourself, but don’t recriminate What we can do 20Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 21. So let’s connect: @karenbachmann www.linkedin.com/pub/karen-bachmann/4/a/884/ “Ten years from now many of the information you learn at the conference will be out of date, the only thing will last is the relationship you build today.” ~ Cam Mi Pham 21Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 22.  http://www.freeimages.com/photo/948501  http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1079133  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blausen_0614_LimbicSystem.png#fi lelinks  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Indig1.jpg  https://www.flickr.com/photos/globalcitizen01/5908582098/sizes/  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sanzio_01_Plato_Aristotle.jpg  http://www.datanami.com/2014/01/10/universities_roll_out_new_big _data_programs/ Image credits 22Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann
  • 23.  Chimamanda Adichie, Single Story  Center for Building a Culture of Empathy, How to Build a Culture of Empathy?  Bobby K. Cheon, Vani A. Mathur, Joan Y. Chiao, Empathy as cultural process: insights from the cultural neuroscience of empathy  Kevin Dulle, Apathy to Empathy: A Business Shift  Will Evans, Design Ethnography for Lean Teams  Greater Good: Empathy  Robert Lee Hotz, Tracing the Origins of Human Empathy  Megan Kapera, Why Empathy is Good Business  Roman Krznaric on Greater Good, Six habits of highly empathetic people Readings 23Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann Unlike most references in a slide deck, this list is not citations as much as some of the resources that I’ve found interesting and useful at this point in my personal journey with developing empathy. I hope that you find them helpful in your own journey.
  • 24.  Selwa Luke, How To Care: Three Empathy Building Exercises For Work And Home  Karen McGrane, IA Summit 2013 Closing Plenary: Slides and Audio  Don Norman, Error Messages are Evil  Dev Patnaik, Innovation Starts with Empathy  Jeremy Rifkin, ‘The Empathic Civilization’: Rethinking Human Nature in the Biosphere Era  Skills you need: What is empathy?  Jason Tanz, How Airbnb and Lyft Finally Got Americans to Trust Each Other  Reading to come: Indi Young, Practical Empathy Empathy #stc14 - K. Bachmann 24 Readings