In recent months I’ve been hearing the word ’empathy’ cropping up everywhere I turn. At first it caught me by surprise. I’ve been using that term for years in my professional and personal life but I rarely heard it outside of my own discussions. I’ve always been very self aware and placed a greater emphasis on the people and environments around me. I realized early in my career that I had a knack for getting inside other people’s heads and seeing things from their perspective. In fact, this worked to my detriment with one employer because I was able to get along with even the most difficult clients. Some of my superiors didn’t appreciate the skill set. In the end it was their loss.

But now I hear it at every event, every meeting, I’m beaten over the head with EMPATHY.

For me, empathy is not just a word, it’s a frame of mind, a way of life. It’s how I connect with people. I never thought about it as a skill, and certainly not as a means of persuasion or manipulation. For me it’s a gateway to understanding and connecting on a personal level. It’s compassion and consideration.

I sometimes come across as indecisive. It’s not that I can’t make a decision, it’s that I can relate to the different points of view and I look for the best ways to solve for all of those perspectives. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes not.

Having the ability to step outside of yourself is not only vital for someone working in the field of user experience, it’s vital to being a better human being. Life becomes enriched with the vibrancy of other points of view. Embrace it. Live it.

(As a side note, I first learned about empathy from Star Trek. Thank you, Gene Roddenberry.)

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