In the “design world,” the term empathy takes up a lot of space. Empathy is often listed as a nice-to-have skill in job descriptions. There are even how-to blog posts claiming to teach empathy in a few simple steps.
I think what seems off
, is the way we talk about empathy as a tool, not a mindset (speaking of mindsets
). Empathy isn’t something we pull out of our back pocket when we need it, it’s a way of being.
There’s a lot to unpack here, because empathy overlaps with many topics relevant to participatory design, like power and lived experience. All of which, we’ll discuss in-depth. For now, here are a few takes on empathy…