I Prefer Honey

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Generally it applies to negotiation tactics, but I apply it in a broader fashion. Being nice to each other and saying more positive things than negative is better for everyone. Your work day will be more enjoyable if you talk about what you can do to make things better rather than chewing on the problems that you can’t do anything about.  What does this have to do with User Experience? A lot. The way you present your ideas and the way you react to others ideas is critical to productive collaboration and getting buy in from stakeholders.

photo by Nick Perla

Some UXers use an air of superiority to try to convince others to listen to them. I’ve never seen this approach work well. Sure, you’ll acquire a few admirers who are seduced by your confidence, but for the most part you just turn people off. These people will be more that happy to poke holes in your work during a review and argue that your research is flawed. The resulting situation will leave you frustrated and confused asking yourself “Why won’t they listen to me?” Your ideas may be absolute perfection, but they won’t see the light of day.

Empathy is the cornerstone of the user experience field. Accepting the illogical nature of users and setting aside your own perspective requires humility. That same humility is your best asset when you try to collaborate with others. Trying to get others to see that  you are right is not collaborating. Being open to others ideas and considering their merit is collaboration. Looking at a ‘bad’ idea to find that one piece you can use is collaboration. Combining your ideas with others and acknowledging that even though you are the UX designer your ideas are not the only ones that are important will benefit your users.

Doing UX work as part of an agile team  requires taking on the role of a design facilitator rather than controlling the design. To move quickly, you need to manage the experience not dictate it. Lead others instead of handing them something prescriptive and then berating the imperfect result. The first few times you approach design this way it feels like playing roulette. It doesn’t take long to before you realize you’ve been freed from the shackles of creating documentation and now have time to go spend time with your users.

Of course you won’t have that experience if you don’t respect the skills of your team members. Each of you is there because you have valuable skills. It’s like a pot luck dinner. Everyone brings something to the table. Having extensive interaction design and information architecture knowledge is your specialty to share.

I’m failing in my attempt to hold back a rant.  Honestly I’m frustrated by design arguments and designers who complain about the great unwashed masses who don’t get UX.  I’m not going to hang around and let you fill my ears with your bile. Don’t be so eager to tear apart another designer’s methods or abilities. Let’s be supportive of each other. If someone is a crappy designer, mentor them. Or help them find what they are good at. Before you tear someone down, how about walking in their shoes and finding the good in their work. If your client won’t be persuaded to give you time to talk to users, find a better way to change their minds. Or focus on the positive contributions you are able to make within their organization.

Strive to spread the good, the positive. There’s more value in it.

end of rant