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Xuan Zhao


I want to find creative, scalable ways cultivating empathy in our society and assess the validity of such intervention. Also incorporate empathy circle as an exercise in my empathy course.   

Edwin interviews Xuan

What was your experience of the Empathy Circle?

X: I think it’s full of inspiration. I took a  lot of notes on what Edwin did. How he did it. What people did. Took notes on what people said. Gabrielle mentioned her resonance workshop which also inspired me. I am also here for theoretical and practical ideas about how to design good research.  I am curious about how people with a suppressed modality take in the perspective idea. In my life, when I don’t wear my glasses, I care less about what people think about how I look

How did you feel about the times when you have to wait and listen to others? Do you feel an urge to engage?

X: I do feel engaged. At same time, I understand I need to respect other people’s turns and suppress my urge. Lee-Anne had a great observation and wanted to jump in, yet realized I had to wait.

Any anxiety or wish for deeper involvement?

Not anxiety, but yes wish to be involved more deeply. Will contact individuals later.

What was the most painful or uncomfortable part of empathy circle?

X: I didn’t experience pain, but it was

When Nicholas and Lee-Anne were on the tel, and I didn’t know what to do and got distracted by my emails.

What would you do to improve the empathy circle to make it more empathic?

X: I would include a snap with teens when a person makes a statement others agree with. But different groups have different characteristics, so I think we need to tailor the changes to different groups.

E: To show a sense of approval?

X: Yes.

What comes up for you about the empathy circle?

X: I am very curious about putting this into a study, and seeing how it is designed after several iterations and see how this helps conflict resolution.

Edwin Interviewee Name: Xuan

Insight: Xuan would like to bring in more participatory processes into the circle. for example ie teens include a snap when a person makes a statement others agree with.


  • curiosity

  • inspiration


  • engagement


Play a game at the beginning of an EC session to energize people and create bonds. Games might include: gift-giving, shared memory, three things, etc. (I can explain more about the games. They’re mostly improv games).

I Like... I like how candid and authentic people in expressing their positive and negative feelings.
I Wish... I wish we can keep in touch and make this empathy movement going.
What if... What if we take more than one new idea to create the new prototype?

 To get to know all kinds of practice on empathy out there. To find interesting research topics, and to find stimulating materials for my empathy & leadership class & workshops.   

Mercedes  interviews Xuan

What was your experience of the Empathy Circle?

You have been experience in an empathy circle?

I noticed everyone mutted, I found that odd.

it puzzles me.

leave mike on.

You find this unnatural?

Yes, because when we actually have a group discussion, people will speak “um” “yeah” when they are thinking or agree even if they’re not speaking. That kind of backchanelling is very important. It is useful information for the speaker and very reassuring (that other people are thinking about what you said) and encouraging. It also brings everyone on the same page.

If you find something to add the the group. what would you change?

tim talked about presence. tim talked about presence.

have robots. have a home robot.

maybe we can use a robot for telepresence.

Why Robots?

they have an embodyment

something physical is good

What would help?

  • create something together,

  • body contact

  • share secrets

How is this group different from the other?

groups are the same, inspiring

trouble with people turning off their mike

Other things to improve?

you have more back challenging.

Have non-verbal gestures, for example. Edwin and Lulu did both-hand thumbs up, and that makes me feel great!

Mercedes Interviewee Name: Xuan

Insight: Uncomfortable to get disconnected from the other while speaking. Not being eble to “relate” to other’s feeling of thoughts.  Not knowing how to solve the problem. Presence

Feedback:     don’t fulling agree, I agree it is disconnected because of the mic,  turn on the mic. easy fix

presence - I don’t have a problem with that, ie have a body presence.  encourage gesture.


  • inspiration.
  • little Disconnection


  • feedback
  • Presence
  • Physical Connection
  • engaged with the group
  • Gestures
  • Voice.


  1. Build in more opportunities for freely expressing oneself

  2. More topic-specific ice-breakers.

  3. More nonverbal.