Empathy Introductions

John Sunart
Apr 8, 2019 · 2 min read

At its core, this is a “getting to know you” tool, akin to SuperMe, or any other introduction activity. However, here we aim to build a really strong bond between pairs of people within the team.

This is designed to introduce empathy and specifically the idea that every person is individual, with hidden depths. You might want to use this if you’re going to be getting your team to engage with potential service users or even engage with the results of such conversations. It’s great for teams who don’t know each other well yet, but will be working together over the coming days, weeks and months.


40 mins


  • Print out and cut up the questions sheet.
  • Ask the participants to bring photos exemplifying the following three areas:

First, an object which you love. It could be something which has emotional connections or something which is immeasurably pleasing due to its complexity, simplicity or for any other other reason!

I show my Grandma’s altimeter. She was one was an avid Himalayan climber in the 60s, which I think is incredible. I’ve taken this with me on some of my adventures because it appeals to me as an analog, tool, simple on the outside but hiding a wealth of complexity.

Then a landscape which inspires you.

This is the aurora from a cottage I used to live in on the north coast of Scotland. I’m fascinated by storytelling and loved to imagine what the Picts, who lived on the same peninsular I did, must have thought of these burning curtains in the sky. We don’t know because there are only 24 carvings. An entire cultures wealth of stories disappeared into time…

Finally, a service (yeah, this is the tricky one) which adds value to your life.

Continuing the analog theme, I’m a letter writer. The postal service connects me with some of my oldest friends in a way that new media just can’t match.


  1. Pair participants with someone they don’t know particularly well — It’s a great way of building rapport with people in similar roles from different organisations.
  2. Each partner has 5 mins to talk through their photos and the importance of them to the other person (inc some Q&A time).
  3. After 10 mins each participant has 90 seconds to present their impression of their partner (Be flexible onetime, folk can usually talk for 2 mins or so).
  4. Immediately after presenting their partner, have the presenter chooses a question from a hat, read it out and answer it live to the best of their ability.
  5. The conclusion is dependent on context, but essentially centers on the statement that everyone is interesting, everyone has a story and values which drive what they do.


  • Tailor questions slightly to the audience. The example questions have some (Which capital city should your partner live in?) Which require the presenter to have some degree of travel experience and general/political knowledge, which may not reflect the knowledge of your audience.
  • Pair people who would benefit from forming a bond. For example the agency-side PM and The client-side product owner.


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John Sunart

Written by

Facilitator and designer with intent, writing from Brighton, England. Previously a Flitcroft


Thoughts, case studies, and design tools built as I work to embed codesign and Service Design into agencies.