Collaborative Empathy: A Conversation with Andrea Goulet

Comparative Agility
3 min readSep 12, 2023

In today’s fast-paced world, effective collaboration has become a cornerstone of success, especially in the software development industry.
To explore the concept of Collaborative Empathy and how it significantly affects team dynamics and project outcomes, we had a chat with Andrea Goulet, an expert in this field. Andrea, who has a background in strategic communications and is the CEO of Corgibytes, shared her insights on the importance of empathy, its technical aspects, and how it can be applied in software development and beyond.

The Foundation of Collaborative Empathy

Andrea’s exploration of Collaborative Empathy started when she worked as a strategic communications expert. In this role, she acquired a deep understanding of empathy as a technical skill, essential for effective communication. Her path took a unique turn when she became the CEO of a software maintenance modernization company, Corgibytes. Here, she discovered that empathy wasn’t just a soft skill; it was a powerful tool for transforming legacy code systems and improving social dynamics within teams.

Operationalizing Empathy

Andrea’s mission over the last decade has been to operationalize empathy. She wanted to make it tangible, concrete, and applicable, particularly within software development teams. She recognized that empathy could be harnessed with the same rigor and precision as any technical skill, leading to more predictable results. Andrea emphasized the importance of moving empathy from an abstract concept to actionable steps within teams.

The Five Domains of Empathy

In the conversation, Andrea introduced the five domains of empathy as a framework for understanding and applying empathy effectively:

  1. Resonating: This domain involves developing an emotional connection and recognizing the emotional state of others. It’s about genuinely caring about how someone feels.
  2. Reasoning: Critical thinking plays a vital role in empathy. It’s the ability to consider various perspectives and employ cognitive empathy to imagine what others are experiencing.
  3. Reflecting: Here, Andrea stressed the importance of data validation. Instead of making assumptions, reflective empathy involves confirming with others whether your understanding aligns with their feelings and experiences.
  4. Responding: This domain focuses on taking pro-social action. It’s about actively doing something to help based on your understanding and compassion.
  5. Resourcing: Empathy requires energy and capacity. Resourcing ensures that individuals and teams have the necessary resources, including time and support, to practice empathy effectively.

Collaboration as the Ultimate Goal

Collaborative Empathy isn’t an isolated skill but rather a comprehensive approach to building strong relationships and teams. Andrea highlighted the importance of trust, mutual support, and co-creation as outcomes of successful Collaborative Empathy. Trust enables team members to take risks and innovate, while mutual support fosters resilience. Co-creation, the ultimate result, allows teams to achieve together what no single individual could accomplish alone.

In a world where collaboration is essential for innovation and progress, understanding and practicing collaborative empathy is more critical than ever. Andrea’s expertise sheds light on how empathy, when harnessed as a technical skill, can transform team dynamics, foster trust, and lead to more effective collaboration. As we navigate the complexities of the modern workplace, embracing empathy as a powerful tool can pave the way for meaningful connections and remarkable achievements.