Chat: Ask the UXperts Empathy & Active Listening | indi young

That’s what everyone says. “empathy” — I want me some more. but what does “empathy” mean? in relation to your work?

There are all sorts of definitions. Most common is “be more sensitive.”which is nice, but not viable in a *lot* of organizations.

There’s emotional empathy (also called “affective empathy” in academic literature) which is basically a strong emotional connection with another person over something they said, where you feel their emotion it’s illuminating and powerful; you’ve all probably felt emotional empathy at some point. but in research, you can’t force it.


In collaboration with others, you can’t force it. so … for reliable, repeatable empathy in your work (creating things, collaborating with people) you need to learn to develop cognitive empathy cog empathy gets a bad rap from Daniel Goleman–he says it leads to manipulation but that’s only one of many things you can use cog empathy for.


I use it “to support” others. (help them achieve their purpose or intent) cog empathy is defined as learning the underlying reasoning, decision-making, guiding principles, and reactions that another person has. and if you do that over a lot of people, you start to see patterns.