6/30: Empathizing with Your Users
I’ve never much liked the false dichotomy between “hard” and “soft” skills. For some people, communication is much harder than learning how to do a job that requires technical know-how. But there’s one life skill that is both soft and hard, and a prerequisite for product management.
The ability to empathize with users, customers, and stakeholders is foundational in product management.
Now empathy is not something that comes to everyone naturally or in equal measure.
Some folks are highly empathetic, to the point that it can actually disrupt their day-to-day. Other folks have a lack of empathy through no fault of their own.
We’re all assembled in different ways, both neurotypical and neurodivergent.
But learning about the needs, pain points, and desires of the folks whose problems we’re trying to solve is a must in product management. Our solutions have to be rooted in the needs of the folks for whom we are solving a problem.
So regardless of how well and how closely we can empathize with our users on an emotional or any other level, we do need to try to learn about them and what they need.
And I think it’s important to point out that this can be learned!