Most of the important information about human behaviour eludes us, and we have to relearn how to capture this information. The various methods of empathy help us return to that path, to understand the values that guide people, the emotions that lead them to select and decide, the reasoning that helps them choose and the beliefs in which they are rooted.
Needs, values, beliefs, emotions and thinking patterns – all this is crucial information when we want to define solutions with a better chance of being adopted. Information that is not at all obvious to the subject of the design study.
Our brain creates an image of the world that favours and defends us, so only an indirect approach, such as observation, can reveal what a direct method, like interviewing cannot. It is interesting, for instance, how a person who tells a story indirectly exposes their needs and beliefs, which explains why this is a favourite technique among Design Thinkers.
The oblique approach of empathy is deeply revealing. It surprises us with the wealth of additional information we can work with to get the best results.