Good description of empathy

One of the cornerstone qualities of a good designer, is empathy. Daniel Pink, author of “A Whole New Mind” describes it like this:

Empathy is the ability to imagine yourself in someone else’s position and to intuit what that person is feeling. It is the ability to stand in others’ shoes, to see with their eyes, and to feel with their hearts. It is something we do pretty much spontaneously, an act of instinct rather than the product of deliberation. But empathy is not sympathy–that is, feeling bad for someone else. It is feeling with someone else, sensing what it would like to be that person. Empathy is a stunning act of imaginative derring-do, the ultimate virtual reality–climbing into another’s mind to experience the world from that person’s perspective.

One point I’d tweak is about deliberation. I’d say that as a designer, undergoing rigorous persona and scenario development via observational studies and participatory activities, those are deliberative methods at forging empathic connections, and shaping that “imaginative” aspect of feeling, sensing, and knowing…

Leave a Reply