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Jacob Ninan

 Understand how to leverage Empathy in design. Also understand the tools and do some practice exercises.

Sophie interviews Jacob

How did you feel about the exercise as a listener and speaker?

As a listener, initially it was difficult, I was trying to form the answers/questions while listening

after 5 or 10 minutes it got better.  

I am able to manage the time between listening and speaking

What do you think of this form of exercise? Is this helping?

it is simulated and does not have the richness of the context and culture

the exercise didn’t give enough context of the person we are listening to?

yes, that is one of the pieces.

Besides, the time frame for the exercise is short.

some limitations of the process

yes, I subscribe to the usefulness of the exercise.

What can be improved?

give flavor of the dish, we can expand it over the rest of the course

can add meat to the

How would you do it differently, when being in the lead of an empathy circle?

we could add some information about more of an intro , a context of the participants.

have a session,

a session about mirroring,

have the first session be moderated about the possible best way of doing it.

then brainstorm around it.

Comes with experience .

Know the context and culture.

Time frame is short and there are limitations.

Exercise is useful and could be expanded over the period of the course.

Session on speaking and mirroring could be moderated to improve the quality of session.

Edwin Interviewee Name:  Jacob

Insight:  As a listener, Jacob initially found it was difficult, he was trying to form the answers/questions while listening. 

Feedback:     first person to start, had  beginner's  stress. 

  • more initial nerves
  • frustration,
  • stress
  • distraction
  • nerves
  • anxiety

  • clarity
  • ease
  • presence
  • full listening


Play an online game before the start of the session

Everyone does 2 min (standup) sitdown comedy at start

Do a pre session online team activity

Ice breaker - literally


Understand how to “ listen “ more in the Design process . Learn some new tools, practice them and then improve.

Jacob speaks to Andreas

empathy for me is understanding the others point of view.

I not only want to understand the words but the meaning

Also is important is the context of what is being said, where does the speaker state his facts from?

I try to understand if the speaker is emotional.  if it influences what they say.

this can be made out by body language, the spoken words,

listening is about not only listening but about all the signs.

[this takes practice.]

Andreas  interviews Jacob

What did you feel about my jumping in and out of the meeting?  

I think it was probably missed that you weren’t there to have the whole conversation.  I thought it was probably a miss, and what can you do.

you had some internet problems.

missed meditation, yoga, it was a miss and what can you do.

I didn’t think that much about it, I was involved in other activities, we were doing other things

this happens in online and in my work we have these problems frequently.

I am used to it. I am mentally used to such things.

we have a lot of online meetings and discussions so this is a common problem, low bandwidth, they drop off and then they come back.

used to is and didn’t feel any problem.s

How could you improve your empathy in the empathy cycle?

I’m trying to evaluate how I can better hear the other person.

have more patience

Andreas Interviewee Jacob

Insight:  Jacob felt ok with Andreas jumping in and out at the beginning as this was something familiar to him with video meetings


  • ease

How might we select the right topic/question to foster engagement and connection?


Find topics that are Generic and common whereby there is much to talk

Ask open ended questions

Ask questions in people’s interest areas


Practiced empathetic listening, found some areas for improvement, completed 1 cycle of the design process. Decided to practice empathetic listening and bring 1 failure to next session.

 Understand the science and art of Empathy. Learn and practice tools for empathic listening especially in context of Design.

Write one Empathy Circle launch question.

Name: Jacob    

Question: Explain your journey through the last 3 classes in the empathy circle and highlight lessons learnt. **

Explain why do you like this question?: Because it gives a different perspective and a empathetic view of the learnings of each person.


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John interviews Jacob

What was your experience of the Empathy Circle?

I briefly talked about it, looking back 2 classes back, my idea of empathic listening was more about trying to listen.  this is not necessarily listen. it was not about understanding what the person is saying .

It was more about capturing the words.

1. over the last 2 sessions I have calmed down and that has improved my listening

that is one of the important improvements,

2. the practice of hearing and reflecting helps to slow down. It is like meditation. Instead of being swift in thought we slow down and that enhances our listening ability.

this process has helped me to identify and understand this.  

Slow down and give more time,

helps not just the thought process,  it gives us the time and ability to listen and absorb better.

you see the perspective of the person and respond better. it is a virtuous circle. the whole circle of events.  is effected. it starts with slowing down.

What are you looking for in empathic listening?

Calm oneself down, listen better, understand better, respond better.

John Interviewee Jacob
Insight: Calm oneself down, listen better, understand better, respond better.


a positive empathy cycle, if calm down, virtuous cycle.

growth and improvements in empathic listening..  getting better.


  • confused

  • initially impatience


  • connection

  • calmness

  • growth in empathic listening


How Might We… develop a positive growth cycle of empathic listening?

define the steps.

what it means

agred for common rules.

measure and give feedback

a feedback loop. from the circle. for improvement