The Kindness of Connections

True stories from my routine

How many of you love having good conversations with people you meet everyday?

Of course, everyone does.

As a design researcher, all of my work roots down to sense empathy with the people I spend time with. Having constant thoughts on user empathy lately, at once it occurred to me that — my life experiences are real enough to seek empathy. Here’s three stories that connected me deep down—


THE MAN AT THE CHAI COUNTER

When I get stressed out, I always go to the chai counter at my office to have a refreshing sour lemon tea, without sugar, adding a little spoon of honey, mixing it well — this is my recipe. Either I request my tea-helper to make it or I make it myself.

This lemon tea usually is served in a steel cup. As the tea decoction is hot, the steel cup becomes really hard to hold; And also I’m not used to drinking from a steel cup. Despite my failed attempts to hold — I pick a tissue, fold it into half, wrap it around the cup and curve my hand, holding to take a sip. The lemon tea-expert at my office, Mr. M. Pandeyan’s recipe goes like- squeezing lemon, filling the cup with tea decoction, adding more honey :) mixing it.

One fine day, he wraps a tissue around the cup, just the way I do it every time and hands it over to me with a heartfelt smile. He literally reproduced the way I would like to drink my tea and it was so kind of him to understand how I felt or why I drink the tea the way I drink —

I was comforted with empathy!

Thank you Pandeyan.


TWICE AS NICE

It was February the 25th, about 12pm, all of us were excited about our design premiere at the office.

Being a host, I’m double excited to kick off the event. There were lot of hustle-bustle going around, to make arrangements for our guests, and amidst all this, I cut the skin of my thumb. It started bleed..bleed..bleed. Non-stop!

I was really apprehensive about taking first-aid, since we had our show starting in sometime. But I was hurt and my colleagues rushed me to the nearest hospital. Down the parking, I felt bad that I’d to trouble my colleagues with my unfortunate accident. We reached the hospital, and my thumb started to oozes blood more.

Before entering the doctor’s room, we were supposed to remove the footwear outside, and one of my colleagues was alert in noticing even my minute inconvenience. As I bent, he kindly lent a helping hand of removing my sandals, and also offered an energy drink on the other hand to make me feel better. The moment I gulped the drink —

I was energised with empathy!

Thank you Senthil. Thank you Shrihari.


FOOD ANGEL

The other day, I was sitting on my sofa, sketching and ideating while typing on the laptop with the front doors open, as I just said bye to my house-help for the day.

My Big-Hearted Neighbour walked past and asked, how I was keeping with myself and managing things alone.

After our 2 minute conversation, she asked me whether I had my breakfast. I made a nod from left to right with a smile and promised her that I’ll get back after my work was completed. Not to mention I was a bit hungry then. But I really had no time to make some myself, as I had to save hours for work.

Within 5 minutes, she came with a hot dosa platter and offered me to have some while working. As I had my first bite of dosa —

I was contented with empathy!

Thank you Susheela aunty.

In the above events, all of them observed the way I behave, literally put themselves in my situation — identified my problem at that point and designed a solution that helped my need.

Remarkable things can happen when empathy for others plays a key role in problem-solving. This is where real insights come from and it is the starting point of good research and ultimately, good design.

Until next time!

But before you go..

If you think others should read this post, show some love by clicking ❤ tweet and share the post. Remember to write to me if you have any such stories, I would be happy to hear from you.