A Remedial Course in Empathy – a session at Society for Technical Communication SUMMIT 2014

User experience, at its best, is about empathy with the people who use the products and services we design. We are asked to understand the user perspectives and what they need to have satisfying and successful experiences. We are called upon to be user advocates. We generally acknowledge the importance of understanding our users’ points of view. Why, then, are we so generally bad at empathy?


There are a number of influences. We have long history of emphasizing reason over feelings. Culturally, we are conditioned to value reason over feelings. To diagnose the symptoms of our lack of empathy, it can help to understand how we got here. In western history, the love of logic over emotion goes back to the Greeks and progresses through Rationalism and the Sciencism of the 1950s and today’s love of numbers as “hard” evidence. We will understand how this cultural bias influences our processes, our definitions of success at many levels, and our core philosophy as practitioners.


Karen Bachmann – UX