In 2018 I collaborated with Verne Lindner on a workshop and subsequent article about how to use design thinking and universal design concepts to build empathy. Here’s an excerpt:
Empathy, the ability to understand the feelings of another, is an indispensable tool for user experience designers. We design better solutions when we understand the human environment of the user while they are using our product: are they relaxed, under stress, working with physical or cognitive impairments?
We’re not only better problem solvers when we’re empathetic, but, since empathy strengthens our active listening skills, using it makes us better researchers and collaborators.
Of course, empathy isn’t just a skill for designers: being able to quickly empathize with someone lets us start every conversation, whether problem-solving or negotiation, from a place of understanding, rather than judgement.