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The "developer on fire" podcast closes out each episode by asking the guest to provide three tips for delivering more value.

Some that occur frequently are:

* Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, exercise and healthy food. Have hobbies.

* Constantly learn new stuff

* Practice communication skills. Building stuff fast and well doesn't help if you're building the wrong thing, and you need communication skills to prevent that

* Think about the context that your program will run in (related to the reason above)

* Practice empathy




> * Practice empathy

Any tips on how to do this? I don't often feel things for myself and it's even rarer to experience empathy at a level I can detect. I meditate to try to better understand and learn to detect my feelings, but haven't made much progress yet (I use Headspace).


Read (good) fiction.

Backed by science! https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/novel-finding-rea... https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/oct/08/lite... https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2... https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201412...

I've been confronted with this question a couple of times even before I read the articles linked above and I always answered the same. Always felt like it's such an "obvious" answer since reading fiction puts you in the perspective of another person/character, so it's good empathy exercise. My personal experience confirms this as well, that when I want to shift my perspective to that of another, reading fiction helps.

(Emphasis on "personal" as, in this use case, YMMV.)


On this note... the books I've found most interesting over the last couple years are ones that expand my mind to a viewpoint or a perspective of another people group that is different than my own.

Two very different books but, Between the World and Me, and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia both made me think in ways I cant quite describe.


Reduce distraction.

Its hard to empathise if your thoughts are elsewhere. When a situation requires/deserves empathy then be aware (mindful, if you like) of the locus of your thoughts and, when they wander, direct them back to the subject. Your meditation practice will definitely help there.

Consciously recognising when your empathy is needed is the hard part. All I can suggest is to try to recognise and avoid habitual distraction.


Having pets and being a good pet owner really helps.

They can't speak. You have to empathize with them to have any relationship with them. In social situations you'll end up reading body language and worrying about other's feelings without even thinking about it due to pet practice.


I wish this worked for me; I have plenty of empathy for non-humans animals. But I still find it difficult to empathize and relate with other people. I'm trying to get better and imagine myself in the other person's shoes and it does work to an extent, but it just feels like my emotions for people are greatly muted compared to those I experience for other animals.


Me, personally, here's what i do. I screw up all the time. Odds are, you do too. Usually, it won't matter, like a mistyped password. Sometimes i mistype variable or function names, and the compiler helps me out. Sometimes my logic is wrong, and testing shows me what i've done. But no matter how hard i try, errors seem to leak out to code review, and sometimes even production.

Everybody struggles with this. I find it hugely embarrassing. Don't bother calling people out for making mistakes, if they're any good, they know they've made a mistake. Instead, give advice about how you avoid those kinds of errors. We've all been there. It sucks. Instead offer up some tricks or techniques for avoiding that kind of problem in the future. If it's really bad, a war story about how you really messed up bad can be calming.

The gist is, your coworker is probably feeling a lot of emotions. We've all felt those emotions, and it's going to be ok. Later, we'll have a post mortem and find a way so nobody can ever have that problem again (or make it harder). It sucks coworker had to be the one to break things in that way, but coworker is helping ever other person to come after them. Somebody was going to do that eventually, coworker just got unlucky.


I frankly do not believe that instinctive empathy is always necessary. Instead, like another suggestion, read good fiction- but also read people's real stories. There's a documentary on the families affected by the Sandy Hook shooting- this was useful to me. There's lots of people writing about their lives in situations you'll never be able to be in. Read them when you can, try to understand them, take people at their word when they say they're experiencing things. Chances are, they don't really have a reason to fake or blow it up nearly as much as it may first seem, even if it seems irrational or incomprehensible at first. Humans are rarely totally without some context or reason to their perspective.

Note: I don't have empathy for myself very well, but my own behavior can tread bizarrely enough that I am forced to examine my own behavior in a way that can be explained to others reasonably. If you can explain others' behavior in this way that isn't condescending towards them, that takes all aspects into their behavior into account, you will come off as compassionate and empathetic regardless of how you feel in the situation. At least this has been my experience.


I'm an empathetic person and I find myself often trying to put myself in someone else's shoes to see how I would feel if I were them. Nope sure it that'd help you but there ya go.



Also https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0010SKSTO/, "What Every Body is Saying".


Journal and go to counseling (it helps to understand your own view of the world first)

Raise kids. No joke. They can do some pretty stupid things, and keeping them out of danger and helping them grow has actually helped me understand and empathize with my team quite a bit.

Be generous with your life (from small things like hosting guests in your home, to traveling to help people survive and thrive in other countries). When you see what others are going through, you'll probably have a gut reaction. You should probably trust your gut.

Read books on leadership. It helps to learn how other good leaders coped with similar circumstances. -- and yeah, I just called you a good leader without meeting you. Just asking this question and being introspective indicates you're on the path to being a good leader.


Practicing empathy for yourself is really hard. It's why most developers suffer from imposter's syndrome. I go to therapy in order to help "practice".

Doing all the other self-care that OP mentioned is a good way to start moving in that direction. Be patient and kind to yourself. Once you've learned that, you actually start developing and being able to feel that way about others. It sounds a little hippie dippie, but once you have patience and you're at peace with yourself, you're much better at being able to accept the faults of others.


Empathy is both a cognitive and an emotional thing. Getting to know your own emotions is great and helps in understanding others, which can be achieved by meditation. But it's also necessary to think about other persons and the reason for their behaviour. Here, I think, literature and other narrative forms of culture helps us. Read good books!


Do you have close relationships with people? A good place to work on empathy is with your significant other, friends, and family.


I've struggled with this, but feel that I've made some headway in the past decade, so for what it's worth, here are my two cents (YMMV): I'd say start by conscious effort, and then eventually you can build intuition and 'empathy' in a more traditional sense (and your mirror neurons might even help you understand your own feelings better that way too, as seeing something in others might help you recognize those same things in yourself). Whenever you interact with a person, consciously ask yourself questions like 'how does this person feel?', 'how do they perceive me?', 'what are they trying to achieve?', 'what do they think I am trying to achieve?', 'in what context will they interpret the things I say?' and so on. Even if you won't have a lot of those answers, just making yourself aware that there is information there that you are missing is a valuable step in noticing it - and teaching yourself to care about that dimension of the human experience. Understanding what goes on inside a person is not unlike playing an imperfect knowledge game, e.g. reading someone's hand in poker - a combination of observation, prior knowledge, statistics and logic can help gain you insight into likely scenarios (e.g. "Aggressive behavior is often due to being stressed, or feeling threatened - this person is normally well-mannered, so they are likely under stress right now, so instead of snapping back at them, I could ask them if there's anything I could help with - assuming they normally trust me enough to confide in me"). And read books/blog posts about psychology and what motivates people (e.g. watch stuff like this, https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy (that book is recommended too) and read stuff like this https://youarenotsosmart.com/ ) - it'll help you think about a mind as something that follows rules and patterns, even if those patterns aren't always strictly logical, and hence it is something that can be understood. Eventually, all these things can combine to give you an intuition (a heuristic if you will) about what goes on emotionally inside others and yourself, and as this becomes a greater part of your world view, you'll also get more of a chance to feel a link between those feelings inside yourself and others (which is what I'd call empathy). I think some people, the "natural empathists" stumble on this by themselves; they've just developed this intuition without ever becoming aware of it - but for a person like myself, I needed to understand it consciously before my subconscious could really catch up and start to work on the domain. But it's totally a learnable skill like all others.


I would agree on all of these.

Especially seems that a lot of devs forget about the first point.

In my experience, when I've started doing gym & swimming I became to feel less "burned out" as well as my self-esteem improved :-)


* Be willing to be wrong, all the time.


Sleep, exercise, and good food are essential.

If you try to work on a complex algorithm with little sleep, you tend to throw a wrench into it.




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