Tag: design thinking

Empathy, and what it’s not

November 6th, 2012

Empathy is not a feeling. It’s a commitment.

Empathy is a commitment you make to get someone—to accurately grasp the inner landscape of another individual’s perceptions, and to interact with this individual in a way that is consistent with this understanding.

Empathy requires effort and curiosity.

The presenter who creates beautiful, curiosity-provoking slides for his presentation empathizes with his audience. He gets the people he serves. He sees his presentation as an opportunity to delight and surprise them.

Feelings follow empathy. They reflect that one person has rightly understood and joined another. But it all begins with a commitment to know and understand. It begins with effort.

    The Single Sheet of Paper

    October 18th, 2011

    In this short video I demonstrate an innovative, highly effective approach to engaging young people.

    I’ve been testing The Single Sheet for several years with a variety of age groups and messages. I’ve also helped organizations implement this method to increase engagement with their own messages. I recently filmed one of my presentations to demonstrate The Single Sheet in action. This video features highlights from that presentation.

    The Single Sheet process engages people at a deeper level with a wide range of important messages. During this presentation we discuss the prevention message, “Avoid the use of alcohol.”

    Know that the students’ thoughtful, insightful comments you see here are spontaneous. I didn’t prompt them to say anything.

    Post this link to your organization’s website and Facebook page and help broaden the conversation about the how we can better engage people.

    I’m grateful to my friend, a courageous educator, Heather Johnson, for furnishing her classroom, and to the students who participated!

      Are you still making acorns?

      September 22nd, 2011

      I was out running yesterday when I came upon an enormous oak tree that was actively dropping acorns. I gathered a few in my hand and noticed for the first time the enormous contrast between a single, simple acorn and an elaborate, ancient oak tree.

      Simplifying the complex is a form of art that oak trees practice each year. In the course of a lifetime their ever-growing branches house generations of birds, squirrels, and tree forts. But each year they still produce simple, elegant acorns.

      Too often the way we communicate about a topic mirrors the complexity of our knowledge of the topic. As our knowledge grows we need the discipline to refine the complexity of our knowledge into its essential, most defining elements.

      This is how our knowledge grows more complex, according to George Loewenstein, behavioral economist at Carnegie Mellon University: we want to know more about what we already know. Through learning more about a topic we discover gaps in our knowledge. These gaps spike our curiosity and motivate us toward deeper understanding. In time, as we fill these gaps, our knowledge grows more elaborate and nuanced–like an oak tree.

      The resulting depth and complexity makes us a resource to others. Your physician, for example, is a resource to the degree that she seeks to fill gaps in her knowledge base. But her inability to communicate her topic in relevant terms prevents her from engaging her patients, a shortcoming that renders her less of a resource.

      The simplest, most refined presentation will draw people to your message and to you, the messenger. This discipline makes you and your message more accessible and engaging.

      As you grow into a tree remember to ask yourself, “Am I still making acorns?”

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