Empathy is the ability to feel what other people feel – the key to forming meaningful relationships and coexisting peacefully with others. Some people are born with a natural ability to empathize, and others find it harder to relate to other people. But if you feel your ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes is lacking, there are many things you can do to deepen your sense of empathy
This article discusses the meaning of empathy and steps you can take right away to become a more empathetic person.
Now imagine you’re designing a product to try to help Mary ease her anxieties. Based on this fairly typical profile of a college student, you can start to intellectually analyze Mary and her situation. But what you really need to create a good product is empathy, and empathy isn’t about intellectually knowing – it’s about feeling. To feel what Mary feels, you need to spend time with her, learn about her specific wants, needs, and desires, and get to experience her emotions.
In the world of design-led product innovation, pursuit of empathy is the key to success.
To reap the benefits of the other ‘e’ words that we hear so much about when it comes to creating products (experience, engagement, and emotion), you need to have empathy with the people who will buy, use, and experience your products or services.
Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.
Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, though the concepts are related. While empathy refers more generally to our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help. Altruism, in turn, is the kind, selfless behavior often prompted by feelings of compassion, though one can feel compassion without acting on it, and altruism isn’t always motivated by compassion.
If you want to figure out how people think, take a Literature 101 syllabus and pick any of the assigned readings. That, in a nutshell, is the conclusion of David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, after they conducted five experiments on a group of 18- to 75-year-olds....
But we seem to be missing something here. With all of the focus on how individuals can combat bullying, we have forgotten the power of context and the social norms that set the precedence for bullying behaviors to emerge in the first place.
We can't just focus on turning kids from bystanders to "upstanders" whenever bullying occurs: We also need to focus on changing social norms and school climate so that bullying doesn't occur. Rather than simply asking children to go against the tide, we need to change the tide itself.
One of the best places to start is in schools. The critical role of school climate in reducing bullying has been well supported, but recent findings pinpoint specific dimensions that may have the most impact on student interactions and experiences in school.
One powerful way of changing social norms is by building empathy -- at home and in school.
We now know that this often overlooked, virtually cost-free remedy has a statistically significant impact on our physical health. For example, the positive effect of kindness is even greater than that of taking aspirin to reduce the risk of a heart attack or the influence of smoking on male mortality. And it doesn't even require a trip to the pharmacy
I remember, in vivid detail, lying on the couch, silently crying after having suffered my second miscarriage. My despair was momentarily halted when my then 18-month-old son came over, rubbed my arm and asked, "Mommy, you OK?" with an imploring look in his eyes. I was surprised by my toddler's reaction to my outpouring of emotion, and experienced an unbelievable sense of guilt because my son had seen me in such a state.
In retrospect, I'm proud that my son had mastered the concepts of empathy and healing touch at such a young age. The simple act of him reaching his hand out to rub my arm illustrated his grasp of compassion and comforting others. That would not be the last time he would see me cry, and it was the first of many times he would tell me, "It's OK, Mommy."
Vatic Note: In order to truly understand this below, you first have to fully understand the definition of “empathy”. Its critical to the concept and thus I decided to give you that definition both technically and practically. I am going to assume we...
Enterprise products are complex, powerful, and sometimes frustrating. Creating a great experience on an enterprise product is complicated, and more important than ever.
Many different companies' products share the same core features, so differentiating on features doesn’t work anymore. The only real differentiator is the experience.
In this webinar, Karen Cross, Design Manager at Atlassian, will share practical tips about designing for enterprise products and promoting empathy in your organization for a large and diverse user base. She'll discuss techniques, mistakes to avoid, and lessons learned around:
Letting go: best practices and pitfalls in enabling anyone to run a usability test
Slaying the dragon: building user empathy among new designers
Innovating on personas: increasing effective and frequent use
Dogfooding, putting developers on support, design guidelines, and more!
This webinar is for anyone who wants to make a difference in the user experience of an enterprise product.
Empathize Now! facilitates the designing of programmes, activities, workshops, festivals and exhibitions for classrooms, boardrooms and public spaces to promote the positive impact empathy can have in creating humane societies.
What we do
Organise small and large events – from talks, debates and conferences to film shows and exhibitions with empathy as the underlying theme
Curate festivals targeting particular sectors such as education, health, design & technology, the arts, etc
Partner with education specialists to incorporate empathy in the curriculum
Work with theatre groups to design empathy-related workshops for various groups
Facilitate competitions in art, creative writing, film, photography and theatre on the theme
Organise activities such as exchanges with those less fortunate
The ability to read and reflect back facial emotion is the most basic skill of communicating empathy. This crucial skill allows health professionals to let patients know that we truly understand and care, and allows patients to let their caretakers know they are appreciated.
As a practicing physician for many decades and as a teacher of psychiatric interviewing for my entire professional life, I have found that physicians sometimes need to work to develop this skill. I have tested many groups of students and found that reading and reflecting facial emotion is more difficult for medical students than, for example, acting students.
The one thing I don’t understand is why, having “cornered the market” on compassion, that these empathy crusaders don’t seem at all concerned about whether the welfare machine they built, and want to keep expanding, is running well or doing the job it was intended to do.
For inflation adjusted, per capita federal welfare spending to increase by 254% from 1977 through 2013, without a corresponding reduction in poverty, and for liberals to react to this phenomenon by insisting that the only problem is lack of funding, suggests a basic problem in the theology of liberalism.....
Those of us accused of being greedy and cruel, for standing athwart the advance of liberalism and expansion of the welfare state, must then respond to the empathy crusaders.
Compassion is important but is neither all-important nor supremely important in morals and, especially, politics. It is nice, all things being equal, to have government officials who feel our pain rather than ones who, like imperious monarchs, cannot comprehend or do not deign to notice it.
As Rizzolatti explains, “The instantaneous understanding of the emotions of others, rendered possible by the emotional mirror neuron system, is a necessary condition for the empathy which lies at the root of most of our more complex inter-individual relationships.”
What Rizzolatti is saying is that most of human relations would not be possible without mirror neurons, because we wouldn’t be able to understand our fellow humans. And understanding is a first step in most human interaction.
Citing his progress in making Louisville a globally-regarded city for caring and compassion, a coalition of international organizations has honored Mayor Greg Fischer with a City Leadership award for compassion.
Fischer received the honor last week during “Compassion Week 2014,” an international conference in San Francisco where he delivered one of the keynote addresses. The award was presented by Empathy and Compassion in Society, the Charter for Compassion International and GoodMojo.
In presenting the honor, the groups recognized Fischer for leading Louisville to be the first major city to sign on to the International Charter for Compassion, committing the city to a multi-year Compassionate Louisville campaign. They also cited his work with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to promote compassion in other cities and for creating the annual volunteer initiative, the Give A Day week of service. During the 2014 week in April, more than 144,000 volunteers and acts of compassion were recorded.
We easily empathize with characters that are like us, and even more easily with characters that we wish we were like, usually confident, sexy, successful people. Pixar got us to empathize with a mute robot, a rat, monsters and many other unusual suspects. How did they do it?
Move beyond theory and dive into hands-on practice in the art of innovation. Tackle innovation challenges from start to finish and gain an in-depth understanding of these key tenets of design thinking and how to incorporate them into your work.
Empathize with your customer, synthesize your learnings, and rapidly prototype and test your new ideas. Master techniques for gaining empathy with customers and immediately put them to use in a series of hands on exercises that guide you from synthesis to prototyping and testing.
Learn How To:
Engage customers to forge deep connections and gain valuable consumer insights
Synthesize findings into a compelling problem statement
Prototype concepts in a low-cost manner
Rapidly test concepts with end users to gain insights about solutions and user needs and reduce your time to market
"Compassion v. Empathy: Designing for Resilience" for Interactions Magazine. (October 2014) explores how compassion is physiologically different to empathy, how it leads to altruism, and how we might design for resillience.
Authors: Dorian Peters, Rafael Calvo How is it that some people can spend their days making progress on the front lines of sickness or injustice while others can barely handle watching the nightly news? Empathy is critical to our relationships, our societies, and our individual well-being, but it can also hinder these, leading to avoidance, burnout, and distress. A better understanding of just what makes this difference would radically empower design. Design for resilient empathy would benefit everyone, but most obviously it would benefit care workers at risk of burnout, nonprofits seeking to empower action, and designers of social technologies. Can we design to foster…
Some initial photos from today's Occupy Empathy with Edwin and Sperry... lots of great interactions. Very fun and energizing encounters. This was our first Occupation of the downtown Berkeley BART Station Plaza.. Looking forward to our next deployment. We handed out 100's of flyers and I must have talked to 30 or 40 people..
Such fascinating dialogs about peoples personal stories and how to create more empathy in the world.. We talked with everyone from the homeless to UC Berkeley students and PhD's , social workers, teachers, etc, etc. The amount of pain and disillusionment with the way things are going in the world is astonishing.
Come join us for the next deployment. We need you on the design team to start building the movement!
Please join us in congratulating the Winners of the Building Vibrant Communities challenge! After receiving more than 200 entries, 86 top entries were selected as Semi-Finalists and 23 Finalists were selected. Our winners are announced below. Read more...
Ashoka Changemakers and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation launched this challenge to discover and support innovative ideas that activate empathy to nourish stronger, more vibrant communities and future changemakers.
What does it take to become empathic? Is there a part of the brain that needs to be switched on? Some way of living that is different to a non-empathic way? According to Krznaric in his book "A handbook for revolution.Empathy", the first habit of being an empathic person is in fact to switch on our empathic brain. We do this by embracing a more sophisticated understanding of human nature.
He argues that the capacity to empathise is part of our genetic inheritance, part of our evolutionary roots. He also suggests that empathy can be expanded throughout our lives. In other words, developing empathy is an ongoing process, something we keep working on throughout our lives. It's never too late to learn it.
Marriage is hard. The difficulty primarily stems from the frustrating fact that men are from Mars and women are from Venus and, according to my five-year-old who is currently learning about the solar system, “Those planets are really, really different.”
It’s not news to any couples who have made a commitment to share a life that it can be painful at times. If love is like a flame (as the artists and poets have told us), it has to be deliberately tended to like the Olympic torch, not left to burn out like a 10-cent votive from IKEA. In my seven years of marriage, I’ve discovered that this kind of attentiveness is expressed most clearly through empathy. Taking the time and energy to put myself in my husband’s place—and check out the view from Mars—is the only way to avoid near planetary collision.
IN the early 19th century, a French neurophysiologist named Pierre Flourens conducted a series of innovative experiments. He successively removed larger and larger portions of brain tissue from a range of animals, including pigeons, chickens and frogs, and observed how their behavior was affected.
His findings were clear and reasonably consistent. “One can remove,” he wrote in 1824, “from the front, or the back, or the top or the side, a certain portion of the cerebral lobes, without destroying their function.” For mental faculties to work properly, it seemed, just a “small part of the lobe” sufficed.
The past year of 2014 was a breakthrough year at Compassion Games International. Besides the extraordinary growth from 19 to 159 Teams in just one year, the development of the Leagues burst the gates right off any barriers of limitations that we could have dreamt of. And leading the way? None less than the new Education and Schools League.
Two exceptional educators stepped up to coordinate this league: Rahbin Shyne and Lia Mandelbaum. They each bring with them a vast array of skills and inspiring ideas to help schools bring the Compassion Games into their classrooms.