Methods of Empathizing in Design Thinking

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson is going to go over the methods you can use to help empathize with your users or customers. This includes preparing for empathy, looking, listening, and much more.

Design Thinking

When we think of the word design, we tend to envision something aesthetic, like a sleek laptop or a beautiful website. But design can be, and often is, far more than just visual appeal.

It can be part of design thinking, a flexible, continuous, and user-centered approach to solving a problem. Some of the key elements of design thinking include prototyping, continuous data input, and empathy.

Yep, empathy, the understanding of another's feelings, situation, needs, and thoughts by putting yourself in their shoes.

That's what this lesson will be focused on, how to utilize empathy within design thinking.

The Preparation Stage

Before you can possibly empathize with someone, you must take an important preparatory step. This one can be tough, but it's necessary.

You have to be humble. That means you have let go of your preconceived notions about something, your opinions, and thoughts on the matter as well as your opinion about your strengths and your glossing over of your weaknesses.

This preparatory stage makes sense as it's very difficult to empathize with someone if you're stuck in your own egoistic thinking.

Look and Listen

Like crossing the street in everyday life, looking and listening is also important when empathizing with someone within design thinking.

We can't possibly understand another person if we don't hear them out and listen to what they have to say very carefully. Listening is a very active process. Not only does it involve suppressing our own desire to talk, but it also involves suppressing that inner voice of ours that likes to dismiss things a bit too quickly or judge them inappropriately.

But listening to a person's story is nowhere near enough in design thinking. We have to carefully observe what they say and how they say it. It's not unusual for someone to hold a thought or two back. There could be many reasons for this, including fear or the desire to please others.

For example, you might ask a customer of yours about their opinion on a prototype. They'll articulate it to you, but you'll be able to tell visually that they're uncomfortable or holding something back. It could be because they don't want to criticize the prototype for fear of appearing like a pessimist.

Interviewing and Engagement

You might come across this quite a bit, and this is where being curious and caring can come in. Visibly demonstrate that you truly want to know what the person thinks and that you care to understand their opinion.

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