Empathy Through Observation

2 min read

The skillful use of empathy is critical to the innovation process. By deepening your understanding of potential customers’ current and future needs, empathy enables you to more clearly focus your efforts. But, just as importantly, empathy will enable you to resonate more profoundly with colleagues and customers in order to better understand how your innovations will be perceived. This refined emotional intelligence and increased ability to understand your subjects’ perceptions will go a long way towards improving the acceptance and diffusion of even radically changed products, services or processes.

By shining a light on a chosen concept or idea, songwriting requires the songwriter to observe in a dedicated and empathetic way. It is precisely the need for this kind of focused observation in your songwriting that will strengthen your ability to see things from others’ points of view.

It isn’t hard to find examples of empathy in songwriting. Take the first verse of Carole King’s 1972 GRAMMY-winning song of the year, “You’ve Got A Friend.”

When you’re down and troubled
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night

This verse is a classic case of how the songwriter’s observation and resulting empathy color a song’s message. First of all, it’s clear that the songwriter wants to help the song’s subject. However, it goes deeper in that the lyric is actually about the subject’s experience as opposed to being about the songwriter’s experience. This is the very definition of empathy.

While “You’ve Got A Friend” is an overt instance of how songwriting can be empathetic, all effective songs require a level of observation that invariably enhances the empathy of the writer in the bargain.


Find out more about Cliff’s creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.

5 3 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

This is a great piece of advice to follow and to incorporate in my own songwriting projects. Your professional expertise is invaluable.