The empathetic in it make more money.

The empathetic in it make more money.

It would seem that empathy is another great sounding buzzword, but if you look at this issue a little closer, you can come to the conclusion that empathy for a programmer is no less important than technical skills. All because it focuses more and more on team activities and on a better understanding of the customers of the products.

Empathy can be useful in any job, wherever you work with people. So why would it not be important in the work of a programmer? Back in 1999, the duo of authors Andrew Hunt and Dave Thomas in their book “The Pragmatic Programmer: from Journeyman to master” urged that programmers were primarily pragmatic, then much was said about the key role of passion in programming (for example, Chad flower in the book “the Passionate programmer”), today it would be necessary to add empathy to this.

Empathetic people earn more!

Empathy is important not only for the development of a Software developer’s career, but, as it turns out, also translates into tangible financial benefits for employers. The Empathy Index, published for several years, shows this quite well. According to him, companies that have reached a high level of empathy (considered m.in. public data, financial statements, employees ‘ evaluation of CEOs, complaints handling, company opinions, etc.), they earn 50% more than those enterprises in which empathy is very low. Moreover, employees of empathetic companies earned 6% more in 2016 than in 2015, while the salaries of those employed in the worst empathetic companies fell by 9% on an annual basis over the same period. It is worth emphasizing that the technology sector is at the forefront of the empathy ranking, and this is not at all a coincidence. IT companies have long understood the importance of empathy in business. An example is the leader of the lineup – Facebook – who even created a special cell: Empathy Lab. Here is a list of the 20 most empathetic companies:

However, empathy is not only about more money earned, but above all about people working better and teams working more efficiently. Google recently implemented the Aristotle project, which tried to explore what makes some teams perfect and effective, and others – ineffective and simply do not work well. It turned out that one of the factors influencing very positively on the functioning of the team is empathy. The IT teams that achieved great results consisted mainly of people who were sensitive to the needs of their colleagues, able to read the emotions of the other person from the tone of voice and other non-verbal signals. The winners were those who were open to the other person, who did not shy away from small kindness and kindness.

Now that we’ve written so much about the positive effects of empathy in business and career, it’s worth considering what empathy really is.

Empathy-what is behind this term?

It is not easy to explain in a simple way what empathy is. Even the very origin of this term is not simple. Although it is derived from the Greek word” empatheia”, which literally means” physical love, passion, partiality”, its modern meaning has been subordinated to the German meaning of the word Einfühlung (identification with something, feeling). There’s not even one official definition of empathy. Some psychologists emphasize the emotional side of empathy and define it as an emotional response to the feelings and needs of another person. Other scientists emphasize the cognitive sphere, talk about empathy, as an educated skill that allows you to correctly guess and understand what the other person is experiencing. Still other psychologists combine the two above positions, treating empathy as an emotional reaction that is triggered by cognitive processes. It sounds a bit convoluted, but it seems closest to what is commonly understood by the term “empathy”. In the American Dictionary of the prestigious publishing house Merriam-Webster, we can read that empathy is “understanding, awareness, sensitivity and the ability to penetrate the feelings and experiences of others.” This is the understanding of this term we will use later in the article. But let us now return to empathy in the work of a programmer.

Being empathetic in coding

Empathy seems to be one of the most important qualities that can effectively influence a programmer’s professional career. As mentioned above, today this skill is increasingly appreciated by employers. Let’s not forget that a developer usually creates tools and products for other people, not for himself. That makes being empathetic invaluable. Only then is software created for people, not for the art of programming itself. An empathetic coder is able to look at the product he creates from the perspective of the user. The other approach often ends in failure. Often the reaction of developers to user complaints is the famous “it works for me” or the statement that “the user does not know how to use the application”. This may be a sign of a lack of ability to feel the user’s position. This approach often leads to the release on the market, if not the whole product, then at least some of the functionality that no one really needs, and on which a lot of money was spent and to which a lot of time was devoted. Empathy should be shown by the entire design team-including designers and developers. If the people involved in the project are able to put themselves in the situation of users, to accept their perspective, then the effect is much better, and this also translates into better financial results of the company.

Programming is increasingly a team effort. Empathy in the work of a programmer must also appear at the level of cooperation with other people employed on a given project. Of course, focusing on technology is very important, but it is much easier to succeed if the team understands each other well. It takes a little understanding for other people. Lack of ability to get into the shoes of another person can be seen when creating documentation by programmers. For the person who made the fragment, everything is clear, so he often believes that documentation in a very concise form is enough. However, it may turn out that for an outsider, the connections, for example, between endpoints will not be clear enough. Another example is the use of non-standard practices and the failure to provide sufficient comment on their use. With standard CRUD-ze comments may be unnecessary, but with a complex module a few lines of explanation can be invaluable. Empathy on this level is based on respect for the programmers who will work on this code in the future. Getting a feel for what they might be going through. You could say empathy is taking more responsibility for your work. Another area is teamwork, working with people. Understanding that not everyone always works at 100%, everyone can have a weaker day. Noticing that someone needs a change, a rest. This is especially useful for team leaders.

Empathy as a developer’s secret weapon

Programmers are stereotyped as introverted people who don’t understand other people very well, they understand code. That’s why empathy makes such a difference in this case. Thanks to it, you can go professionally where not everyone reaches, and the career of a programmer can gain momentum. An empathetic coder treats people and co-workers better, understands their needs better, understands customers better. Such a person does not cause conflicts at work, anticipates the reactions and actions of colleagues. Not only that, an empathetic programmer is easier to convince other people of their rights and easier to cope with the negative attitude of another person. Is it possible, then, that empathy is not important in the work of a programmer? Doubtful

Go to our cases Get a free quote