Empathic Communication in design work
Design Research, Editorial Design
In this project, I developed a new approach to work relationships, the design process and design facilitation.
My applied research goal was to create more empathic work environments and enhance work relationships, while developing and supporting agile design processes.
Humans are emotional beings and our feelings and intentions are thus present in all our interactions. So it is not possible to completely shut down our emotions while working. But expressing them is still considered unprofessional.
In this project, I outline how existing and new knowledge about empathic communication can be used in the design workplace as an attitude to approach and improve work relationships and the design process. I also created a set of communication and reflection exercises for designers to use in their interactions during the design process.
For designers, the ability to empathise is not part of the job requirement* and our communication skills are often taken for granted. The understanding of both empathy and communication and how they affect work relationships and the design process remains largely absent from the field of design. When it comes to design processes, the emphasis often falls more on delivering a product and less on the relationships among the ones creating it. Designers must fulfil important tasks in the workplace and manage relationships with clients, designers and non-designers, which can potentially create friction.
Roles: Design Researcher, Visual Designer
Mentors: Prof. Dr. Sarah Owens, Stefano Vannotti
Institution: Zurich University of the Arts
As a result, I propose Kompath, a workbook and toolkit that can help designers communicate their feelings and intentions while enhancing professionalism. The workbook is meant for designers to record their answers, thoughts and reflections when going through the exercises and information presented. Designers, with guidance from a design facilitator, will be able to participate in workshops to gain knowledge about empathic communication. This can help designers move towards more balanced work relationships and makes the design process easier. I argue that this approach has a positive effect on the work and creates a new role for designers as facilitators.
Workbook, Thinking and Dialogue Toolkit