3 myths about empathy and web developers


3 myths about empathy and web developers

Talking about "empathy" in the world of the web developers may sound like "science fiction" most of the time, but some people, teams, and organizations are doing it, and quite successfully, despite implementation difficulties.

3 myths about empathy and web developers
3 myths about empathy and web developers

Empathy and technical skills are not compatible

According to Andrea Goulet, in an interview with First Round, many of these difficulties, in making empathy a fundamental value, exist due to prejudices that say that empathy and technical skills are not compatible.

Empathy is a skill that can be learned and developed, and according to Andrea, the next step in the software industry is precise to recognize empathy as a skill that can be applied, as copywriters, marketers, designers, or innovators have done.

Isn't it true that when we write code, we are writing it so that a “human person” can read it? This person could be you in the future, another developer on the team, or a collaborator. If you were writing for a computer your code "would be zeros and ones". It is not true?

Communicative skills

A few days ago we commented on the most important skills for a web developer, and we saw that empathy, being a communication skill, was one of them. In fact, programming and empathy are related precisely because " programming is a form of communication" and "communication is rooted in empathy ."

Andrea is determined to get empathy talked about in the tech industry, because as we saw in the article on communication skills, this is a fundamental skill.

Together with Corgibytes, they have developed EDD, Empathy-Driven Development, or Empathy-Driven Development, is a highly procedural framework to incorporate this fundamental skill into engineering teams. But to do so, he had to overcome 3 myths about empathy that we will review today.

1. Empathy is just a feeling

According to Andrea, one of the big problems, for her to be part of the web development sector, has to do with the misunderstanding about what empathy is . Andrea thinks that "many people believe that empathy is just a feeling." Although it “involves feelings”, conceptually it is much more than that.

Empathy is a characteristic "that you acquire after listening to someone and truly understanding their point of view." As we have said before, professionals from other disciplines ( marketers, UX researchers, writers, designers, and even many front-end engineers ) are already benefiting from empathy, especially from the rational process called "cognitive empathy."

“Empathy is proactive perspective-taking and problem-solving.” - Andrea Goulet

2. Empathy is irrelevant to creating software

People don't normally think of empathy when they think of the characteristics or skills that make a web developer an effective developer. However, this is a problem resulting from a confusion of "professional concepts and skills".

Andrea believes that " you can be a technologist and know how to be an empathetic communicator ." I agree. To "know how a machine works, you must know how to communicate" and, if you work as a team, surely you have seen the usefulness of empathy to create diversity and inclusion.

To say that empathy is irrelevant to creating software is a mistake, because "update messages ( commits ), pull requests, nomenclatures, tests, error messages, fundamentally it is about communicating with empathy." Furthermore, “code is not written in a vacuum; it is constantly reviewed and revised. "

One of the problems in software development, especially software related to artificial intelligence and “ machine learning ” is bias. So that the software you develop does not show “racial bias or bias against women”, empathy must be a fundamental ingredient.

3. Empathy cannot be taught

This myth is interesting because it is not difficult to find people who say that anyone can program since it is a matter of “following a few steps”, but they think “that you either have or you don't have empathy”.

This is also "a misconception" for Andrea, and the first step to overcome this thought and to improve empathy is "to recognize that empathy is a skill that can be trained."

Andrea believes that it is “difficult to apply a growth mindset to a trait that you believe is inherent and fixed. But with a practical breakdown of what empathy is, how to apply it, and how to cultivate it, there is a way to go. "


To conclude, Andrea believes, and I agree, that in the current market the software sector must accompany other positive trends as other disciplines, where people are involved, are doing.

For this reason, he believes that “we need to get rid of the incredibly harmful and limiting stereotype of the“ socially inept engineer ”, because“ the fact that someone is good with machines does not mean that they are not able to work on other skills that are essential for an organization, or for product development. " What do you think? Comment below!


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