To be a Better Designer, Attend to Your Pain

We experience tension
when there’s a conflict
between what we expect or need
VS what we have

Design begins
when we take responsibility
for clarifying,
and addressing
our tension.

Say we expect computers
to be more usable.
We begin to design
the moment we take responsibility
for clarifying,
and addressing
this tension.

We don’t always design, though.

we push responsibility

We blame.

This is normal.

Especially when tension
accompanies pain.

If we wish to design
may we attend to our pain

Before it becomes
an untreated wound.

A wound that can be irritated
leaving us
with such a low threshold
for tension
that we end up spending
too much of our time blaming
instead of designing.

Care is Not the Only Fuel for Realizing Empathy

One of the most important things we learn
in our journey
of realizing empathy

is that our care
can actually get in the way
of realizing empathy.

Care is good,
but as a fuel for realizing empathy,
it often burns too quickly.

And once it burns out,
what’s left
are residues
of bitterness,
and resentment.

is an alternative fuel
for realizing empathy.

It is not an intuitive fuel to use.
It is also not as strong.
But it is powerful enough
in most cases.
It is also more sustainable.

There are different fuels
we can choose to use
when working towards
realizing empathy.

Let us choose

p.s: My colleague Julia Dorbic was gracious enough to interview me on a related topic called Bringing Design to Human-Human Interactions​.

When Diversity & Inclusion Programs Don’t Work

Most diversity and inclusion programs are primarily concerned with biases. They attempt to change someone’s behavior by telling them they’re biased. This could be effective if people were merely unaware of their biases.

In all other cases, it’s important to recognize that biases may also be either directly or indirectly fulfilling a basic human need. If letting go of a bias means depriving ourselves of our needs, we’ll experience tension. Now it’s no longer just a matter of awareness. It’s also a matter of fulfilling our needs and relieving our tension. That’s much harder.

If we’re serious about diversity and inclusion, we have to also help people discover or create an alternative way of fulfilling their needs.

Human Literacy

Computer literacy is all the rage these days.

It’s certainly nice to be computer literate. Important, even.

What about human literacy?

How to love.
How to grieve.
How to be be confident.
How to understand yourself.
How to manage your emotions.
How to fulfill each other’s needs.
How to be different with each other.
How to be honest despite fear of vulnerability.

We rarely pay attention to these. It’s as if we’re expected to just know how to do these things without training.

It’s often only after we have lost something precious (i.e. health, money, marriage) that we begin to pay attention to them.

By then it may be too late.

We need to start human literacy much sooner.