How do you know if you're being empathetic?

7 months ago from , Product Design Manager at Gladly

Empathy is a critical skill for designers to have, but actually being empathetic and applying it to your work can be difficult. My personal yardstick for being empathetic is imagining myself make the same decisions, in the same situation, that another person made. If I look at someone’s behavior and think, “That doesn’t make sense,” or “Why did they do that?!” then I’m not being empathetic. Read my full thoughts here.

What's your yardstick for empathy?


  • Jennifer Nguyen, 6 months ago

    I agree that empathy is critical skill for designers but it can sometimes be mistaken as agreeing with everyone's decisions. As humans, we have an internal moral compass that is shaped by our upbringing and daily interactions. It's okay to feel empathy for someone who made a really bad decision (extreme example: murder) but it's also okay to not agree with that decision and say that is wrong. This applies to design in the sense that, you notice if a user is doing something you would like them not to do, you can see why they did that, but sometimes you have to accept that it's on them, not on the way you designed something. And once you accept that, it makes it easier to narrow down who you design something for. In reality, you can't design for everyone. You can't make everyone happy.

    With that said, my yardstick for empathy is how accepting I feel regarding something I don't agree with. For example, if someone does something I don't expect and my design compass is saying "They shouldn't have done that, it was pretty obvious to me", it's a matter of how much I can accept that it's okay for them to be different even if I strongly disagree with their behavior. Does that make sense?

    1 point
    • , 6 months ago

      Yeah, makes sense, and I absolutely agree. You can understand why someone did something, and still not agree with it. Thanks for sharing!

      0 points