Oprah : Architect of Empathy

When thinking of positive Architects, one of the first major ones that always comes to my mind is that of Oprah. Like many major Architects, Oprah began to do a lot of different things as she gained financial freedom; so when trying to identify one specific characteristic that truly defines her it is difficult, but I believe it is that of empathy and here is why.

In one of Oprah’s first interviews she interviewed a group of skin heads. She was cool, collected, and the questions she asked were structured in such a way that she was seeing through their eyes, even though she disagreed with their views. Most people when talking about empathy, or being an empath, generally use it in reference to recognizing feelings such as sadness and pain, however, empathy is not limited to that; it is the identification of all feelings. When dealing with people with such harsh and violent beliefs, it is difficult, but understanding that they are very much victims of their circumstance let’s one have an insight into their perceptions. It is interesting to note that two of the skinheads later came on her show and apologized to her for the way they were.

Oprah would later go on to help many, and  she also has a very unique capability to identify individuals who were not only empaths themselves, but had the ability, to varying degrees of success, to modify the feelings of others; Dr. Phil being one of the most prominent examples. So while Oprah is many things, I believe it was her trait of empathy that allowed her to become the major Architect and world changer she is.


2 thoughts on “Oprah : Architect of Empathy

  1. Jenni

    As an information architect where empathy is a requirement to successful design, what you wrote really resonated with me. Seeing with humility and understanding, good design in my world is only ever about seeing the experience through the eyes of the user of that experience, not from my own experience. Good architecture relies on the ability of the creator to see empathy as a personal value that is ultimately at the core of who they are.

  2. Jonathan Wagner Post author

    Your comment made me very excited, because I think it is amazing when people apply things to technology that aren’t usually associated with it. Technology is not usually associated with emotional responses despite the fact that it is very pervasive through our entire society, it makes complete sense to me that empathy would lend itself to better information architecture and user experience design.


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