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Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work

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Conventional product development focuses on the solution. Empathy is a mindset that focuses on people, helping you to understand their thinking patterns and perspectives. Practical Empathy will show you how to gather and compare these patterns to make better decisions, improve your strategy, and collaborate successfully.


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Conventional product development focuses on the solution. Empathy is a mindset that focuses on people, helping you to understand their thinking patterns and perspectives. Practical Empathy will show you how to gather and compare these patterns to make better decisions, improve your strategy, and collaborate successfully.

30 review for Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work

  1. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Howard

    Initially I thought this was going to be one of those "good, but I know this already" books, but it ended up sparking a *lot* of ideas in my head. Especially some of the ways of talking about ongoing research — language is so important in helping folk see value. Going to be revisiting this in the context of the stuff I do with customer interviewing & incremental persona. Initially I thought this was going to be one of those "good, but I know this already" books, but it ended up sparking a *lot* of ideas in my head. Especially some of the ways of talking about ongoing research — language is so important in helping folk see value. Going to be revisiting this in the context of the stuff I do with customer interviewing & incremental persona.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ninakix

    I really liked Young's first book, Mental Models, because it depicted a clear process for people who were looking for a design process. But this book was a bit trickier: I understand what she was trying to get at, but I think with these books, they tend to be an in depth description of designer's processes, and might be better if they were descriptive instead of prescriptive. Process is probably partly personality driven, partly driven by the requirements of one's design challenges, so understan I really liked Young's first book, Mental Models, because it depicted a clear process for people who were looking for a design process. But this book was a bit trickier: I understand what she was trying to get at, but I think with these books, they tend to be an in depth description of designer's processes, and might be better if they were descriptive instead of prescriptive. Process is probably partly personality driven, partly driven by the requirements of one's design challenges, so understanding that would be a better way to digest this book. I feel like this book teetered on this weird edge of focused on practicality, and focused on empathy. So, a bit odd. Probably people coming out of firms like IDEO, Frog, or Jump might have done better with this topic. Portigal's book on interviewing is probably a better introduction for people looking to learn more about interviewing, but I did appreciate the general approach to interviewing in this book, which can be summed up as: stop thinking so much and just effing listen.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    If you want to start with user research, start with this book and read chapters 4 & 5. The book describes the most basic method how to listen to users. It is a must have basics before you'll start with other methods (in-depth interviews, usability study etc.). It's really desciptive and contains a lot of handy and practical advices. That star down is for the first 3 chapters and the chapters at the end (6 or 7 and more) - why so many words for such simple things? These chapters are just waisting If you want to start with user research, start with this book and read chapters 4 & 5. The book describes the most basic method how to listen to users. It is a must have basics before you'll start with other methods (in-depth interviews, usability study etc.). It's really desciptive and contains a lot of handy and practical advices. That star down is for the first 3 chapters and the chapters at the end (6 or 7 and more) - why so many words for such simple things? These chapters are just waisting of time.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    It started 💯💯💯but apart from some tips for empathy w coworkers in the final chapters it lost my interest by focusing too much on methods. I'm too intuitive for that nonsense. It started 💯💯💯but apart from some tips for empathy w coworkers in the final chapters it lost my interest by focusing too much on methods. I'm too intuitive for that nonsense.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Karen Mardahl

    I intended reading this earlier, but got caught up in a million other things. Thank goodness for my local UX Book Club meeting. It got me to read it. I'm glad. I thought it was a very worthwhile read. It got me thinking in lots of different directions. I especially liked what I call the soft skills part. I think soft skills are too often neglected. I am referring especially to the listening part. I like how she gives very practical examples for practising, which is sound advice. After all, you r I intended reading this earlier, but got caught up in a million other things. Thank goodness for my local UX Book Club meeting. It got me to read it. I'm glad. I thought it was a very worthwhile read. It got me thinking in lots of different directions. I especially liked what I call the soft skills part. I think soft skills are too often neglected. I am referring especially to the listening part. I like how she gives very practical examples for practising, which is sound advice. After all, you read these books to learn something, but how often do you remember to start practising and applying the lessons learned. Sometimes you don't know quite how to begin or where. Indi Young covers that. Thanks, Indi! Even though this is coming from a UX library - the book products of Rosenfeld Media, there are chunks of this book that I would like to share with other parts of many organisations! I'll update with a longer review soon. In the meantime, I will just strongly recommend that you check out this book if you are in technical communication, ux, design, development/programming, project management, and anything that sounds remotely like those things. :)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marrije

    Meh. Vague and meandering - the first few chapters are interesting, but I wasn't impressed by the rest. A pity, since I had been looking forward to this book and it appeared to be the exact thing I needed... Meh. Vague and meandering - the first few chapters are interesting, but I wasn't impressed by the rest. A pity, since I had been looking forward to this book and it appeared to be the exact thing I needed...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Young's instructions on conducting a formal listening session are worthwhile. Much of the rest of the material, while not total fluff, seems like it was added just to make it book length. Young's instructions on conducting a formal listening session are worthwhile. Much of the rest of the material, while not total fluff, seems like it was added just to make it book length.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Young, a trail-blazer in experience design and a strong advocate for inclusive design practices, delves deeply into the concept of empathy, sharing insights and techniques to help designers develop and apply empathy in their work. In a world focused on metrics, Young encourages consideration of the value of empathy, the value of understanding why people do the things they do. Powerful without being preachy, Young explains why most organizations need more balance between quantitative and qualitat Young, a trail-blazer in experience design and a strong advocate for inclusive design practices, delves deeply into the concept of empathy, sharing insights and techniques to help designers develop and apply empathy in their work. In a world focused on metrics, Young encourages consideration of the value of empathy, the value of understanding why people do the things they do. Powerful without being preachy, Young explains why most organizations need more balance between quantitative and qualitative data to foster greater collaboration, creativity, and clarity of purpose. Practical Empathy is essentially divided into two parts. The first half provides guidance for developing an understanding of people, their thinking patterns and perspectives. In some ways, the content in the first half of the book is similar to content in “Interviewing users” by Steve Portigal. Both books place a heavy emphasis on good listening skills, especially during user interviews. However, Young goes a little further than Portigal, encouraging “listeners” to forego most of what they know about formal interviewing and focus instead on becoming intensely alert to what another person has to say. The second half of the book highlights strategies for making sense of data collected during listening sessions and applying key learnings in useful ways to improve products, services, processes, and relationships. “Empathy” is an oft-used term in the world of design, but rarely is it used in a meaningful way. Practical Empathy provides a deeply thoughtful perspective on empathy and, as the book title suggests, includes many practical tips for cultivating serious listening skills. Although intended for developers, designers, and leaders in the product design space, the ideas in this book have applicability in many design contexts. If you design things (products, services, experiences of any kind), this book should have a place in your library.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brendan Byrne

    Practical Empahy is a very uneven book. The opening chapter, essentially a polemic against a culture of exclusive quantitative analysis, is poorly written. It hurts to read, because it feels unnecessary in contextualizing the techniques for interviewing, evaluating, and effectively conveying conclusions drawn from qualitative information. At the other end of the book is a tacked on conclusion that glosses over relationships in the workplace that strikes me as inadequate. I'd have preferred its a Practical Empahy is a very uneven book. The opening chapter, essentially a polemic against a culture of exclusive quantitative analysis, is poorly written. It hurts to read, because it feels unnecessary in contextualizing the techniques for interviewing, evaluating, and effectively conveying conclusions drawn from qualitative information. At the other end of the book is a tacked on conclusion that glosses over relationships in the workplace that strikes me as inadequate. I'd have preferred its absence. With that said, boy, should you read the middle chapters of this text. I found the chapter on how to approach a large amount of textual data using some smart rules on verbs, nouns, and classification, but also how to manage it by equally distributing the task across teammates. Time estimates are a welcome inclusion and clearly indicate Indi Young is a master of her craft. The chapter on interviewing was interesting and effective in muting my design ego. However, her approach is so similar to the ELIZA therapy simulation program, that I wish there had been some mention of the basis (coincidental or not) in psychological practice. One last thing I'd like to mention are the illustrations and the text that accompanies them are that special kind of bizarre that you share with friends and colleagues to make sure you're not insane for not being able to entirely grasp their meaning. Skip the beginning and end. Read the middle. Hmm. Yeah, paleo diet this thing.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jaanus Kase

    I’ve long followed Indi Young work about how to orient ourselves in the “problem space” of design (as opposed to “solution space”). A previous well-known work from her on this is about “Mental Models”. “Practical Empathy” is in some sense a follow-up or clarification, which focuses solely on the listening/“interview” part. The conversations are now called “listening sessions”, and the author explains how the previous “interview” word came with too much baggage, and was thus dropped. The premise o I’ve long followed Indi Young work about how to orient ourselves in the “problem space” of design (as opposed to “solution space”). A previous well-known work from her on this is about “Mental Models”. “Practical Empathy” is in some sense a follow-up or clarification, which focuses solely on the listening/“interview” part. The conversations are now called “listening sessions”, and the author explains how the previous “interview” word came with too much baggage, and was thus dropped. The premise of listening from a cognitive empathy perspective is a powerful one, and applicable in many situations covered in this book, from talking with potential customers (whom you don’t refer to as “customers” in the context of this work, but just “humans”) to working within one’s own organisation. This book encourages you to empty your mind, be present in the situation, and approach the listening with humility, all qualities which I find worth striving for. Among other things, you learn to not take notes which might be counter-intuitive, but note-taking does make you less present in the conversation. Conducting such listening sessions is one of the more enjoyable aspects of my work as a designer, and this book provides a practical guide written in a human language. I agree with some of the other reviews that the middle sections of the book (how to approach the listening session, what to look for, and what to ignore) are the most valuable.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I wanted to like this book more as I'm a big fan of Indi Young and have found her articles really helpful over the years. On the positive side, coming from the perspective of an experienced design researcher, I thought there were some really good ideas to think about in this book and it helps if you have a strong foundation in user research methods. For me personally it was a read dense with instructions that could have been made more useful, clear, and memorable through illustrative examples of I wanted to like this book more as I'm a big fan of Indi Young and have found her articles really helpful over the years. On the positive side, coming from the perspective of an experienced design researcher, I thought there were some really good ideas to think about in this book and it helps if you have a strong foundation in user research methods. For me personally it was a read dense with instructions that could have been made more useful, clear, and memorable through illustrative examples of the methodology she describes. Also, a case study to see how this has worked for her or her colleagues would have been helpful. I personally don't see a lot of people doing this in the industry, so would love to see examples and their outcomes. As Young explicitly states, this book is NOT about interviewing users. If you want to develop your skills there, I highly recommend Steve Portigal's aptly named "Interviewing Users."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    The core message of this book is to listen to others. It offers a methods that helps in listening: building the empathy, that may lead to better decisions (applying empathy). On it's core it's unguided talk, keeping yourself from reactions, emptying your mind, and listening to reactions, reasoning and guiding principles. So not for example opinions or facts. When working with this quotes the key is to make summaries, actions followed by brief information that captures the specific intent of the The core message of this book is to listen to others. It offers a methods that helps in listening: building the empathy, that may lead to better decisions (applying empathy). On it's core it's unguided talk, keeping yourself from reactions, emptying your mind, and listening to reactions, reasoning and guiding principles. So not for example opinions or facts. When working with this quotes the key is to make summaries, actions followed by brief information that captures the specific intent of the talker. These can be written lightweight, just after the session. Working with these summaries results in patterns that can be used for specific purposes. Such understanding, the summaries can be built up across years, since these qualities of people don't really change (like for example product usage patterns change).

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mitch Dowell

    I actually purchased the audiobook version of this book. The author (Indi) did a great voiceover job - something that can't actually be said about all authors. She does a great job of explaining what empathy IS and what it ISN'T, and provides some good techniques for listening at work. Although, I think that is where she lost me at times in the book - especially in the later chapters. She gets a little too "textbooky" towards the end on the topic. But overall is still worth 4 stars and I would h I actually purchased the audiobook version of this book. The author (Indi) did a great voiceover job - something that can't actually be said about all authors. She does a great job of explaining what empathy IS and what it ISN'T, and provides some good techniques for listening at work. Although, I think that is where she lost me at times in the book - especially in the later chapters. She gets a little too "textbooky" towards the end on the topic. But overall is still worth 4 stars and I would highly recommend this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    J

    This was not what I expected. While there were some practical examples much of it was too hard to follow. 10 hours spend on listening and analyzing sessions? This isn't practical when we are busy with our jobs. Maybe this is for a course on empathy but not for a employees at a company. I did hear a webinar by Indi which was excellent. This was not what I expected. While there were some practical examples much of it was too hard to follow. 10 hours spend on listening and analyzing sessions? This isn't practical when we are busy with our jobs. Maybe this is for a course on empathy but not for a employees at a company. I did hear a webinar by Indi which was excellent.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    The first 3 chapters have the most value. Clearly defining empathy and drawing a line between emotional and cognitive is important. The later chapters on how to listen, how to use empathy in teams and in the workplace seemed less valuable to me. The content seemed obvious and a little fluffed to fill out a "how to" book. Generally, I appreciated a good third of this book's ideas. The first 3 chapters have the most value. Clearly defining empathy and drawing a line between emotional and cognitive is important. The later chapters on how to listen, how to use empathy in teams and in the workplace seemed less valuable to me. The content seemed obvious and a little fluffed to fill out a "how to" book. Generally, I appreciated a good third of this book's ideas.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Al Bajet

    Hand holding book on empathy. Honestly, felt good that an “industry standard” book validated natural actions I already do. Great book if you don’t know how to give empathy, boring book if you already do. Very beginner, not for advanced.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    For all the naysayers, the thinking style approach to capturing reasoning, reactions and guiding principles through active listening and cognitive empathy is a game changer! We will rue the day we stuffed so much pap and fluff into our personas!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michiel

    Didn’t expect this to be so much about UX, and so little about teams. Still some solid advice on developing empathy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Samlbckn

    Amazing book if you are looking to run unbiased interviews!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gökhan Kantar

    Even chapter 7-8 hast great value for readers I believe lots of people stopped reading the rest after chapter 5. (Chapter 5 was a little bit too detailed and non sense for me)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Volkan

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chetan Dhewal

  23. 4 out of 5

    Martin Heuer

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Cantú

  25. 5 out of 5

    Unmesh

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dani

  27. 5 out of 5

    Scott Sullivan

  28. 5 out of 5

    M.B. Dallocchio

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sonja

  30. 4 out of 5

    Janis Godins

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