A way of building empathy for people through firsthand experience
AS ATTICUS FINCH teaches us in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” While any research method can help you better understand people and their needs, Walk-a-Mile forces you to take a person’s journey and experience their joys, conflicts, and weariness. In other words, you must not only see, but also feel what it is like to live in the world as someone else.
Practically speaking, this could mean any number of things: donning the equipment someone uses and performing a task, artificially altering one or more of your senses, foregoing (or perhaps experiencing) some of life’s luxuries, or even living among people of a different society. Whatever the extent, the idea is to deepen your empathy for others, and to use that experience to better inform your decision making. If you can begin to understand people’s motivations, you will better understand their needs.