Empathy; it’s one of the first things you’re taught in school. You’re always told that it’s a “good” quality to have, but the reality is it’s the most basic quality you could have.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It is the foundation of user experience. In user experience, you’re looking at the overall experience a user has when interacting with a product or service. In order to understand the customer’s experience, you need to be able to put yourself in their shoes. If you lack the ability to empathize with your users, you will have a hard time designing your products and services to meet their needs. There are various tools you can use to develop empathy but here are three simple things that can help you on a day-to-day basis:
Just listen. Listen to those around you, listen to their questions and concerns. This is something that you can practice every day. Have a small conversation with the people you interact with throughout the day. Ask them how they are and make it a point to listen to what they have to say rather than being the one talking. When you stop talking and start listening, you’ll be surprised to see the connection you can build.
2. Acknowledge Your Bias
Bias is something we all have whether we know it or not. A lot of the time our bias is unconscious, we’re unaware of it. It’s hard to let go of your unconscious bias overnight, however, actively acknowledging can help you. The next time you go to the grocery store, ask yourself why you pick certain products or brands over others. Question yourself about the decisions you make throughout the day and you’ll realize where some of your bias comes from. Acknowledging your bias is the first step, not the final step. You need to actively try to step out of it because it impacts the way you view things. You won’t be able to empathize with your users if you’re clouded by your biased judgements.
3. Be Observant
I’ve often heard elders say don’t believe what people say, but watch what they do. Be observant of those around you. Talking and listening to people is great but not everyone is going to want to talk to you. The way they act and their body language will tell you a lot. You can empathize with someone without talking to them or having a personal connection to them.
How does empathy relate to success? Although empathy is important to a business and its consumers, it is not exclusive to consumers. You need to empathize with everyone, including your employees. When people are satisfied, you’ll see the benefits. Satisfied employees means motivated employees. Employees who will go above and beyond for a company that cares about them, a company that empathizes with them. Similarly, consumers who are satisfied will go out of their way to use your product or service. People want to be heard, they want their concerns to be acknowledged. As a business, it should be your priority to do that. Empathy is not only seen in user experience, we use it when creating our service blueprints too! When we facilitate conversations with our customers and employees of an organization, we use empathy to visualize key moments in their experience. We perform empathy mapping to understand users and we often build personas from the knowledge we gain. Contact us for more information!