Chapter events - United States

“Good designers are good listeners. They start by understanding, not solving.” - Adrian Zombrunnen (2017)

Our human-centered processes are centered around understanding and finding inspiration in people’s lived experiences. We are tasked with building empathy in every step of the process, but that is not a simple task. So, how can we become better at it? We can start by practicing and mastering effective listening skills. Active listening is a technique introduced in the ‘50s by psychologists Carl Rogers and Richard Farson as a key component of therapy sessions, however, it is also a highly useful tool for service design practitioners in user interviews, workshops, or essentially any interaction. But more than a tool, active listening is a skill that counteracts our tendency to make assumptions allowing us to explore and ensure shared understanding. As a practice, active listening can also help us become open to new ideas and perspectives from those whose world views are different.

Join us as we embark on a workshop full of opportunities to finetune our listening skills. We will go through the process of listening to ourselves and to others. We will learn about the behavioral elements and phases of active listening and then we will have multiple opportunities to practice moving from repetition and paraphrasing to listening for emotions. Then we will reflect on the application of this skill for our service design processes.

Make sure to download zoom, have your camera on, and pen & paper on hand.

What you’ll learn:

How to use self-reflection and check-ins as listening tools.

How to move along the phases of active listening and practice listening to emotions.

How to apply active listening to develop empathy and discover novel insights.


6:30 - Welcoming

6:40 - Listening warm-ups

7:00 - Introduction to Active Listening

7:10 - Listening for emotions practicum

7:55 - Listening as a tool of Service Design (group debrief)

8:10 - Closing remarks

About the Facilitator:

Sergio Venegas is a design strategist who is passionate about creating inclusive spaces for collaboration and team development. In the last few years, he has been conducting research on the conditions and the practices needed to build empathy, trust, and vulnerability in our human-centered design methods. He thrives at the interception of business and design, with experience applying human-centered design in Fortune 500 companies, social enterprises, and nonprofits. He is an experienced design strategist and facilitator. He holds an M.S in Strategic Design and Management from Parsons School of Design and is a former Fulbright scholarship recipient. He is originally from Costa Rica, moved to NYC in 2017 and is now a proud implant to D.C. where he enjoys running/biking in the many green spaces and trails the city has to offer.