Chaos in the morning…

Location: Bengaluru.

The daily venture to the office involves taking a giant leap of faith – one that you hope stops a multitude of Indian commuters all trying to reach their own destinations.It’s like a cacophony of locusts – swarming by radar to the nearest field of wheat crops. Beeeeeeeeep…beeeeeeeep…hooooooooonk…tooooooooot…

An attack on the morning senses really tests your ability to stay balanced and focused on where you tread – long stretching strides over 30cm high gutters, chewed bitumen chunks and surrounding construction concrete dust permeating your nostrils.

‘Hope’ is a conscious thought when staring into the windshield of 10 oncoming tuc-tucs and crossing the nearest gap relies on the motorists empathetic response…to slowdown and let you through.

Vipul & Ujjwal empathising with each other


Halfway through a 5-day intensive Train-the-Trainer workshop, the keen participants are discovering what it is to uncover information with the use of empathy. With the use of a simple explanation video (giving my voice a rest I’m sure was appreciated) and a 30 minute overview, future-trainers were crafting open questions – eager to see if they could collect proof-points from their colleagues.

After a 5 minute face-to-face interview, the truth was revealed – revealing surprising and unexpected answers. Above-all, it was the behavioural reaction by their co-workers put on the spot that was more shocking…8 separate interviews saw 25% of candidates flat-out refusing to co-operate and support the first time researchers.

Perhaps they were too busy or caught off-guard…or perhaps they were fearful of the ‘anonymous’ answers being used or shared in an inappropriate way. Nevertheless, empathy is a complex topic to understand and even more complex when putting into practice to gather real responses.

A few things to think about:

  • ‘trust’ is definitely something that takes time to establish – even amongst known work colleagues
  • simply asking for help, may not always be the best persuasive strategy
  • as a design researcher, always have a backup plan or alternative way to gather responses to your questionsDr. Brené Brown presents a beautiful narrative about why empathy is a tough thing to teach.

Click to get your empathy on here