1) Briefly reflect on the lessons learnt from each exercise

a. Reflective listening

My interview topic for my partner was on the challenges of speaking English as a second language. As an active listener, I tried to capture every thought and empathise how my partner felt using the English language. In all honesty, it was challenging to relate to her feelings as I am a native English speaker. I guess if I was speaking another language, I would probably feel the same way too. I could agree with some of her thoughts, such as English being useful an international language for travel and for understanding what is happening around the world, and I reiterated her words to assure her that I understood her frustrations. Through this reflective listening exercise, I realised how effective it was in raising key issues that people may face during communication, which may be overlooked if we are designing for users in general.

My partner interviewed me on the things that I really enjoyed in life. what  As a mindful speaker, I tried to tell my story with as much description as possible, so that my listener can understand what I am saying. Knowing that she is not a native English speaker, I also attempted to narrate my story in a slower pace and expressed my thoughts with more emotions so that it would be easier for her to relate. Body language and gestures definitely helped with conveying my thoughts to her.

I would say that I am more comfortable as a speaker, as it is much easier to share a personal experience than to relate to another person’s experience, especially if it is something that I have never come across before. The exercise has taught me that being a mindful listener is important in the design thinking process to accurately capture the essence of the user’s needs, desires and frustrations for more effective design.

b. Defamiliarisation of everyday reality

In the defamiliarisation of everyday activities, such as taking the public transport, I could break down my feelings into smaller elements, elements that I never thought about before. I could feel physical sensations and thoughts coming back to me as though I was really taking the transport at that moment. The experience of writing almost without thinking populated random thoughts that came straight to my mind, which I could immediately note down on paper. This could be useful in capturing immediate needs and frustrations of users, which they might not remember if they were to be interviewed again on the same topic. I discovered that some thoughts were also translated into physical sensations, and targeting those physical sensations in design could potentially help improve user experience in the particular situation.

c. Empathic modelling

In exploring familiar places from an unfamiliar perspective, I realised that some elements in the environment were enhanced, such as colours and glare from lighting, and some elements were toned down, such as the outline of shapes. I could still feel a certain familiarity from the blurry images, but with reduced sight it is a little difficult to confirm my exact location. If I were to experience reduced sight while taking the public transport, I could still figure my way around e.g hearing the buzz of a train door, but would probably find it hard to confirm my exact location just relying on sound and colour alone. This exercise actually puts me in the shoes of a person who may have difficulty seeing, and could help me understand the needs and frustrations of the condition better i.e. what would really help the person see or navigate better. This is important in creating effective designs for problem-solving e.g creating a device that could aid in sight or navigation.