There are many kinds of empathy: emotional empathy, mirror neurons, empathic concern, personal distress, self empathy, and cognitive empathy. There are also many uses for empathy: to help/relieve, to persuade, to change someone's mind, to better support a person, etc. When you say you are using empathy in your work, you probably mean something different than another person does. So. If you have a better understanding of all these definitions, you'll be better able to reach for the right tool at the right moment. Moreover, you'll be able to understand the differences between what decision-makers need in order to face risk. You'll be able to articulate the role empathy plays in the post-industrial creative age.
User research, whether evaluative or generative, involves talking at length with people to find out what they're thinking. Traditionally, we've been taught to go into an interview with a standard list of questions, so we can compare answers across different people--but this is the wrong approach when doing qualitative, inductive work. You can't apply a method developed for natural sciences when trying to understand the breadth of thinking styles and reasons behind how different people behave.
This workshop will help you get comfortable with "questionless" research, where only the scope-of-research guides what you explore with each individual. You will also learn how to help the participant get comfortable and trust you, so that together you can explore his personal reasoning and guiding principles, and so that he will honestly explain his reactions and behaviors.
During the workshop, you'll have a chance to try out the material we are covering. There will be a couple of listening exercises, where you learn to empty your mind and dig deeper into the reasoning going on in another person's mind. You'll have a chance to summarize some of what you heard from the other person, and as a group we'll look for patterns. Finally, if there's time, we'll choose one of the patterns and brainstorm some ways we can support that kind of thinking, using not only an app, but also interactions, writing, process, or policy.
Consultant, Rosenfeld Media author
San Fransisco, USA
Indi Young consults in product, service, and process design based on an empathic understanding of the people involved. She also writes, speaks at various venues, and mentors teams through their first foray into empathic research. She was the first Rosenfeld Media author, and a founder of Adaptive Path.
A swiss web agency that specializes in the ergonomics and design of websites, mobile apps, intranets and machine interface.
Local chapter of IxDA (Interaction Design Association), we organize monthly events to try restoring meaningful relationships between people and the products & services they use.