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Articulating Design Decisions by Tom Greever

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3

Understanding Relationships

I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

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BEFORE WE GET INTO THE DETAILS OF LISTENING TO AND TALKING TO OUR STAKEHOLDERS, I want to take a moment to look at the relationship. The single most important thing you can do to improve communication between you and your stakeholders is to improve those relationships, earn trust, and establish a rapport that will speak more for you than the words that come out of your mouth in a meeting.

So much of life and work is built around relationships. It’s not just who you know; it’s the quality of those relationships, too. If we’re going to be effective with communication, we begin with the relationship. We need to see the world through the eyes of the people who have influence over our project. We have to get in their heads, find out what makes them tick, and use this information to help us approach them in a way that’s productive and valuable for everyone.

What’s ironic to me is that UXers are so good at putting the user first, at garnering empathy for and attempting to see the interface from the perspective of the user. Yet, we often fail to do the same thing for the people who hold the keys to our success. We think carefully about the users of our applications but less so about the stakeholders on our projects. Let’s apply these same principles to the people we work with so that we can ...

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