Empathy Made Me a Better Software Engineer

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

I build software, but actually, I build tools for effective communication, so I spend a lot of my time thinking about how we interact and communicate with each other.

I ask a lot of questions. It’s the only way I know to build a great product.

Through questions, I build understanding. It’s now second nature.

Thanks to my employer, 1904labs, I’m indoctrinated in the way of Stephen Covey. One of the habits we espouse is “Seek First to Understand Then to be Understood

It wasn’t always this way.

I entered college with the arrogance of a 18 year old thinking I knew everything. I actually entered with the intention of not finishing. I was going to drop out and build my software business. I thought college was overpriced and useless in a world where I could learn programming from Google. This was 2002 and while my thinking may now seem prescient, it was really just naiveté.

In my college dorm I would think up cool features for my website and spend all night coding them. I had dreams of launching my product to great fanfare and applause, much like how Steve Jobs launched the Macintosh. Eventually I did launch and even got a write up in my student paper.

When the story broke, I expected my AIM chat box to be overwhelmed with messages of how great my product was. I thought I’d become a local celebrity much like Mark Zuckerberg of the recently launched site, thefacebook.com.

Want to know what happened?

Nothing. No AIM messages. No celebrity status. No one cared.

What did I miss?

It took a little over 15 years to find the answer.

The answer was empathy. I had none. All I did while building my website was think about how it was going to help me. I never once thought about my users.

As a consultant at 1904labs, I think about how to be more empathetic everyday. More empathetic to my clients, my team and the future users of the product I’m building.

While I focus on software, it’s easy to see how the world as a whole would be better if we all had more empathy towards each other.

I truly believe empathy is going to be the biggest driver of growth in this century. In a world of abundance the differentiating factor will be who cares more.




I write about managing software teams and building software products through human-centered and agile processes.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

ExpressJS vs Sinatra

More Efficiently Health Kit with Awareness Kit

OasisDDB WebDAV Gateway

Designing Beautiful Command-Line Applications With Python

Kotlin vs. Flutter: Which is the Better Choice for Enterprises?

LINQ improvements in .NET 6

Orchestrating and tracking complex Microservices in Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Setting up a GitHub account and git repository

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Niarcas Jeffrey

Niarcas Jeffrey

I write about managing software teams and building software products through human-centered and agile processes.

More from Medium

Job-hopping: is it that bad?

Software Engineer vs Data Scientist Salary

Software Engineer

The surprising elements of confidence

Why a masters degree is no longer required to grow in your career?