Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

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Join the International Conference on: How Might We Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion?

1 HCD Introduction
2 HCD Organizations
    To Interview
3 Process (overview)
4 Manuals
5 Classes-Workshops
6 The Process
7 In Education
8 Videos
10 Brainstorming
11 Sort
15 Empathy Maps  

Empathic Design Conference
Empathic Design Magazine

   Design and Empathy


HCD Warm-Up Activities






Empathy and HCD  >  10 Brainstorming Notes:


How Empathy Applies to Human Centered Design

  • Self Empathy: Each person needs to listen to their own feelings, ideas and needs.

  • Team Reflective Empathy: The team members need to empathize and listen to each other. This is even before going out and listening to users or people they are designing for.  Then during the entire project, the members need to empathize with each other.  This is especially true with people coming from different backgrounds and traditions. I see real potential for conflict which could be headed off or addressed with empathy. The team will need to foundational skill and way of being.

  • Team Imaginative Empathy: Perhaps the team members

  • Empathy with Users: The team members need to empathize with the people they are designing for and with whom they are interviewing. The better at empathy they are, the better they will be able to tap into the users needs and be able to address them. So, I imagine empathic listening will come in handy here.

  • Imaginative Empathy with Users:  Extended Empathy, This would be doing role playing with the potential users, products, etc and actually taking on the role of others and speaking from what you imagine their situation would be like.. but using your own emotions in that contact,

  • Empathic brainstorming: ideas that contribute to the users needs.

  • Empathic Prototyping: Test - offer the prototype. I've been thinking of the prototyping as an empathic offering. I offer this to you to contribute to supporting your well being. Is this working for you? Let me hear why or why not so that I can connect more deeply with you.

  • (would be interesting to contrast these ideas to what a non empathic mode would be.)

HCD as an empathic conversation


Steps of HCD How Empathy Applies - Human Centered Design is an Empathic Dialog between the Designers and the Users. It's a empathically transcendent way of being.  
  Empathy Team Building - need empathy between team members to work effectively
Team needs to empathize with the 'users' to find their needs, values, concerns, aspirations.
  Define Team needs to hold and embody users' needs, values, concerns, aspirations in mind while defining the problem. Feeling what their needs are.
Can use imaginative empathy.
  Ideate Team needs to hold 'users' needs, values, concerns, aspirations in mind while brainstorming solution.
Solutions are an empathic creativity
  Prototype Prototype are empathic creativity
Team needs to hold 'users' needs, values, concerns, aspirations in mind while creating the prototype
  Test Prototype are an empathic creativity and action.
Again Team needs to empathize with the 'users' in offering the prototype and and listen to how it supports their needs, values, concerns, aspirations.


Teaching and nurturing empathy is teaching HCD because it's empathy centric.