Find a way to begin + Build empathy = Great data points
I got two stories as my experience when talking with strangers. The first one is when I was wandering about an unsafe area (where live lots of homeless people, and I don’t know that is an unsafe place at that moment) in downtown. I was taking photos by myself with my digital camera, a noticeable one. Then a tall black man stopped me, however, he didn’t begin with inquiry about me. Actually, he warned my that this is not a suitable place for me to stroll. Then, we talked a lot about the history of the city, the people here, which direction is safe to me etc…
Another story is on the bus No.5. I was on the interception task and I needed a person to talk with. The difficulty is how to begin a talk. Because apart from the lack in expression and variation in languages, even my shyness can be a problem. However, I found my own advantage that I am a foreigner and it normal for me to ask any help. So, on the bus No.5, I carefully followed my steps, I asked a gentleman beside me the time schedule of the bus and apparently he has a bellyful of complain about that system. Interestingly, both of us had to spend near an hour on that bus. So we talked a lot and I gained many ideas from native people towards the transportation in their city. For instance, public transportation in San Francisco is low efficient but is relatively good in the United States, and in global scale, it is not as good as the one in Euro or Asia. He hopes there should be more extensive subway coverage and he doesn’t have a car cause cars are “rubbish” in comparison with bicycles here.
On the other hand, During our project, we ( my part Reiz and I) investigated some Chinese living in San Francisco in our mother tongue, which is another scene.
And we found that we have to be a good listener. The way to build empathy is like thinking as we are them and send back positive feedback to them, hence encourage our interviewees to give us more detailed information. Be cooperative and patient, because normally they will talk about what they concern. To guide them and keep our topic within our target is a challenging but interesting job. Concentration and collaboration with my partner is a good solution for that.
And eventually, the best thing is to make friends with your interviewees. During our moccassin project. We made friends with Veronica, the owner of Urban Flowers. That an amazing experience!